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).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Column of Padilla (Columna de Padilla)

The Column of Padilla is a historical monument located in the neighbourhood of El Contento, in the south of Cúcuta, on a hill from which the most of the valley can be seen. It was erected on the 24th of July, 1923, to celebrate the centenary of the naval battle of Maracaibo, in which the Colombian admiral  José de Padilla walked triumphant.

Here is a photo of the Column of Padilla. From my Dad’s book Elementary motherland (Patria elemental).

Column of Padilla (Columna de Padilla)

On the hill the flag and the wind.
By the pole, docile pebbles without patina,
like time had not touched them.

From high up one can see the forest
that protects the city. Behind it the hollow
and by its edge the poor roof, the scarce bread,
the thirst of the savannahs covered in thistles,
the life of the inhabitants without a destiny.

From that height the column remembers
heroic achievements.

The wind goes by. Time goes by. The light goes by.
Also the night. And at the edge of the hill
promiscuous realities of glory and misery
also pass by.

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