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, July 14, 2011

The house of Santander (Casa de Santander)

Francisco José de Paula Santander y Omaña (2 April 1792 – 6 May 1840), was one of the military and political leaders during Colombia's (then known as New Granada) Independence War (1810-1819). He was President of the Republic of the Nueva Granada (1819-1826). Santander became to be known as “The Man of the Laws” (“El Hombre de las Leyes"). This poem is about the house in which he was born. One of Colombia's national treasures kept in Cúcuta.

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

The house of Santander (Casa de Santander)

Under the shade of old trees
the General rises up in bronze.

A scent of glory expands
in the darkness of the rooms, on the slippery roofs,
on the stones of yesterday and of today,
on the patios of sun and green, on the flagpoles,
on the portraits on the walls,
under the memorable tombstones
and on the names that they consecrate,
in the chapel where remains are kept
and in the swift wind that blows by
the centenary palm trees.

In the Temple, Bolívar, dreamer
and alive.

The wheel of the old mill spins
and the refreshing noise of the wings
sounds like a background melody in the loneliness
of the hallways.

The water runs and mills, slowly,
the long history of the house.

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