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).

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fan of Breezes (Abanico de brisas) - Cúcuta's unofficial anthem

Cúcuta, my home town, originally a pre-Hispanic settlement, was founded by Mrs Juana Rangel de Cuellar on June 17, 1733. Mrs Juana donated the original 1,930 acres of land, where the church became the epicentre of a village that grew incredibly fast due to its strategic commercial location between Colombia and Venezuela. Tonight, on the 278th anniversary of the foundation of the now City of San José de Cúcuta, I would like to share with you the lyrics of a song that my father composed and that became the city’s unofficial anthem.

From my Dad’s book Elementary motherland (Patria elemental).

Fan of Breezes (Abanico de brisas) - Cúcuta's unofficial anthem

The musical piece invades the festive evening.
Under the moonlight, on the courtyards of
the Cazadores Country Club,
the old and the newest generations are dancing.

The musical composition of Manuel Alvarado
conjugates the rhythmic demands of the modern times
and the lyrics facilitate the evocations,
in an atmosphere of melancholic ecstasy.

The verses possess the typical architecture
of a song but each word is the beginning
of a story or of an event of
yesterday or today, told by the grandfather,
or wanders around hidden in the books
that the noble ancestors wrote.

The melodic contribution arches that parade
of memories and the things that were and that
do not exist anymore or those that survive:
such as the river, now silent, which Elías and Irwin
knew when it was sonorous, like they testify it
in their immortal bambuco*.

The lyrics go like this:

                Among a forest
                of almond trees
                Cúcuta, creation of a woman
                engineered as a grid
                that fades away
                with dusk…

                Your sun has
                summer colours
                your river looks like a thread of silver
                and of silence.

                Under the lightning
                Tasajero** watches over
                your nights adorned
                with moon and stars.

                Cúcuta, Mediterranean,
                guard of the border
                fan of breeze
                with rhythm of song,

                is my beloved land
                where love walks along
                the streets
                dazzling as its sky
                burning as its sun.

* Bambuco is a traditional Colombian dance.
** Tasajero is the tallest hill in Cúcuta.

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