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 24, 2011

Names (Nombres)

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

Names (Nombres)
Just mentioning their names dignifies the memories of those
who built the city with their twibill and shovel,
more with love than with science.

To complete their fate they would add narrow passages,
bridges, and installed shadowy places
for dominical escapes, but they would christen them
with names of wise allegory:
Puente Plata, Nisperal, Vuelta de La Laja…

Mr. Francisco de Paula Andrade traced with a cord
the streets and avenues and then the wit of the people
gave them names. In every street the memory of a nobleman
had to be planted, so that the people of Cúcuta would learn
to transit through their history without fright
and with some familiarity, Fortoul Street, Girardot Street,
Ricaurte Street, D’Eluyar Street, Zea Street…ultimately,
in each of them, a glorious reference.

The avenues allowed the pedestrian
a glance into the world of the domestic pedagogy
of rudimentary geography. Under the scorching sun
one walked along Bolivia Road, Panamá Road,
Perú, Cundinamarca or Colombia Roads…

It was around the year 1819 the official christening
of the streets and the legal norm,
the reminding plaques. Then the devastating time came
and arithmetic replaced the theory of the
identifying patriotic evocation.

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