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).

Saturday, May 14, 2011

In Juan Ramón’s garden (En el jardín de Juan Ramón)

Note: Today's entry was meant to be posted yesterday.  Unfortunately I couldn't do so because Google blogger was down...again! 

This poem is a tribute to the Spanish poet Juan Ramón Jiménez Mantecón (24 December 1881 - 29 May 1958), a prolific writer who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1956.  

Platero is a little donkey, main character of Platero y yo (Spanish for ‘Platero and I’), one of Juan Ramón Jiménez's most popular works.  Platero ("silvery") is described in the lyric prose of the book as a "small donkey, a soft, hairy donkey: so soft to the touch that he might be said to be made of cotton, with no bones.  Only the jet mirrors of his eyes are hard like two black crystal scarabs".  The little donkey remains a symbol of tenderness, purity and naivety, and is used by the author as a means of reflection about the simple joys of life, memories, and description of characters and their ways of life.

From my Dad’s book Boundaries (Confines). 

In Juan Ramón’s garden (En el jardín de Juan Ramón)

You knew
the exact name of things
and that is why there was not
one explosion
of the heart left
that you did not express
under the nostalgic
and sad moon
or under the
insomniac sun.
You were from the first light of dawn
until the dying red glow in the sky
the singing word,
the entire truth present.

In this afternoon of
blue light, evanescent,
a memory is tangled
in the gentle breeze
that merely blows
on the flowers in the garden,
I get lost
in the forest
of your poetry
to make move
this heart of mine,
a little slow

I will learn
essential things
from your pages
this afternoon.
Your writing
will teach me
the mystery
of words.
I will make
a sentimental
with your grammar.
You have said
so many accurate things!
And then at the end,
when it is time
to put some order in the afternoon,
like it happened to you
trying to do things
the way she used to do them,
my hand will become
celestial blue
while I copy your verses.

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