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, July 20, 2011


From my Dad’s book Variations for an epopee (Variaciones para una epopeya), celebrating 201 years since the Colombian Declaration of Independence, which took place on the 20th of July, 1810, in Santa Fé de Bogota.


And this small Nation started growing
at the pace of your glory. In the Epopee
it was nourishing mother of heroes and martyrs.
In its womb the liberator campaign
found the symmetry
of order and law living together.
Here the Liberator forged an eminent Nation
of broad frontiers and different climates,
as great as the horizons
of its countless roads,
thought, imagined, built
over a horse’s gallop.

If on the walls its undiscovered dreams
could be read,
your Elementary Motherland would be the
convergent centre of Colombia,
the one of the year 21,
which six flags flap with the wind
at the tip of the flagpole.
Your Nation grew at the pace of your glory.
The promise that you made
under the temple’s dome,
allowed the sward to rest
and committed the lawyers’ robe.
Between the great passions
that infected with melancholy
the first rays of light in the dawn of freedom,
you did not avoid dangers, you were always
either on the helmet of the galley slaves
with shackles and chains
or you were the timoneer that drove
with the same skill under the storms
as on the calm seas.

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