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, May 25, 2011

Salm 70 (Salmo 70)

My beloved Borders Chapel Street, to which I have been going for the past ten years before the movies, closes tomorrow (apparently to be replaced by Target). Every book was reduced to $2. Empty shelves everywhere and no people sipping coffees and browsing magazines. The Oprah Show ends forever this Friday. Call me cheesy but I can’t help feeling overwhelmed by melancholy. From my Dad’s book The celebrated afternoon (La tarde festejada).

Psalm 70 (Salmo 70)

From the luminous hill of the many years,
the man looks at the valley that he has crossed, step by step.
And finds in each of the footprints that
engraved the days on the surface of the earth, which is his,
the collection of the symbols that identify him.

The God of his elders as a perpetual horizon
in the discourse of his lineage.

Loyalty of conduct, which is prime key
in coexisting and unavoidable certainty in front
of the falls in life and of time.

Eloquence as a fastidious human virtue, which
allowed men to mention, with golden voices,
all the beautiful things in nature, from the epic height
of the civil epopee to the conversation of the written letter
to be read in those grave historic moments,
or in fleeting days.

Bread, enough of it for the daily nourishment
in a magnificent table and in honourable and generous hands.

The Fire on the candles that helped
light up the coexistence of happiness and to warm up
the glories that accompanied the opening
of loved graves.

The Power as exercise of authority,
symbol of order and synthesis of decorum.

The Projection of his name, of his thought,
his voice, his shadow, under the strictest of suns
of moral reputation…

…and Love as the tutelary entity
in the dark and merciful corner of the warm home,
where the Book of Saints gave him the names
to identify the inner melodies.

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