Why do this?

My father, José Luis Villamizar Melo, passed away in my home town of Cúcuta, Colombia, in August last year. The law and economics were Dad's profession, but literature, history and academia his passion. He wrote and published several books, articles and book chapters. The thing is that so many people have missed out on his work, particularly on his beautiful poetry, which he wrote in Spanish prior to the world wide web. So I thought, what a better way to keep Dad's legacy alive than to bring his writing beyond his world and share it with mine. That is why I am translating over 250 of my Dad's poems to English and publishing them here, one a day, Monday to Friday during 2011 (Dad, a family man, always believed that you shouldn't work on weekends).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Cathedral (La catedral)

Here’s one that might interest those of you who like history. 

The earthquake of Cúcuta, also known as earthquake of the Andes, occurred on the 18th of May, 1875.  It completely demolished the cities of Cúcuta, Villa del Rosario (Colombia) and San Antonio del Táchira (Venezuela).  My mother’s home town, Villa del Rosario, was a calm municipality that hosted in 1821 the Meeting of the First Congress of the Great Colombia, known as Congress of Cúcuta.

I’m pretty sure that the Cathedral of Villa del Rosario (nowadays historic patrimony) is the one Dad talks about in this poem from his book Elementary motherland (Patria elemental). 

The Cathedral (La catedral)

The history of the city can be read on
the tall solid doors.

The artist, like a villager Moses,
engraved on its planks the elemental memories,
from the double foundation
and the firm faith of the elders until the
most advanced days when Daniel Jordán and before him
Demetrio Mendoza used to brand with iron
of ravishing words the integrity of the race.

The light defeated darkness in this
cathedral without shadows.

Inside, loved and revered, timeless,
made like her people of sparse prayer,
who keep the rosary and her treasures,
is the earth-shaken Virgin.

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