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).

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Elementary motherland – To Colombia (Patria elemental – A Colombia)

Today I had to do a little more research than usual. Although the names Manuela de Omaña y Rodríguez and Juan Agustín Santander Colmenares sounded familiar, I had to dust off some memories from primary school and look them up. They were the hero Francisco de Paula Santander y Omaña’s parents.  Mr Santander was a farmer and land owner from San José de Cúcuta, who in his 50s moved to Villa del Rosario and married a young widow, Ms Omaña y Rodríguez, heiress from one of the most prominent families in the region.

From my Dad’s book Variations for an epopee (Variaciones para una epopeya).

Elementary motherland – To Colombia (Patria elemental – A Colombia)

Now you will be able to recognise the land
where you Aries were born,
the calm rivers that irrigate it,
the green planes laying under the sun
of a perpetual summer in blue sky.
You will remember the house and the fertile cacao plantations
and through the impenetrable mystery
of your imaginary eyes,
the preserved faces of time will pass…
Mrs Manuela de Omaña y Rodríguez
will govern the fortress of your heart,
and Mr Juan Agustín Santander Colmenares
will praise her demanding mastery
in the education of FRANCISCO DE PAULA,
the human creation demanded by ancestral commands
of blood and the land.
A new era will begin, and when you return,
in the eternity of your glory,
you will feel the rural joy of the town,
you will remember your friends from childhood
and adolescence
and you will re-live your creation, step by step,
from when you discovered the imprecise boundary
where freedom and fear mix up.
The Elementary Motherland, the beautiful Motherland
of the early years of life
which reach does not go beyond the horizon
and is like an intimate Motherland.
The flesh and blood heroes
also have their small Motherland
where people say everyday
“good morning” and mark the beginning of dawn
with their hard-working hands.

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