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).

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The paternal home (Casa paterna)

Dad grew up in Cornejo, a tiny country town a couple of hours drive from Cucuta, where he then lived and raised his family since returning from Law School in Bogota, Colombia’s capital city.  I only visited Cornejo when I was a small child and I never met my grandfather but Dad told me lots of stories about his father’s corner shop.  This poem transports me to my Grandad’s home and to Dad’s childhood.  I think of him smiling, happy, going to school and bickering with his brothers and sisters.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed translating it.  From my Dad’s book Urgent poetry (Poesía de urgencia). 

The paternal home (Casa paterna)

Mural in the house in the village.

Brother friend:

In this house
there was love in abundance,
not much sorrow, little sadness
and a jasmine of white fragrance.

Place of tiny pleasures!

Oh, the vespertine flocks
of mourning swallows
saddening the twilights.

The persistent rumour of the river
like a distant beat.

The daily harvest of the dew
in the garden every morning.

A house of love in abundance!
Place of tiny pleasures!

At four in the morning
my father used to inaugurate the day,
he knew that God blessed
his early pastoral labour.

Mother started at the first light o dawn
always with a melody
that we still sing, now
with a little melancholy.

Then the river, the savannah,
the heart without a course, dreams,
the uncertainty of tomorrow,
decisions and tough determination.

Each played their cards
and forged their own destiny,
found joy on the way,
and scars from loss and deaths.

Nevertheless, everything was a memory one day,
a day more than 30 years old…
And at the end, distant disappointments,
this is again my house!

Each wall, each window,
the foundations, the cobblestones,
the roofs
and the early light that invades
and the gardens,
so enjoy them my friend,
and old house is a noble house
and the minute hand of the heart
is not perpetual…

And everything passes!

Cornejo, March 29/77

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