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 12, 2011

The invention of the symbols (La invención de los símbolos)

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

The invention of the symbols (La invención de los símbolos)

Since the city lacked old standing and lineage,
and in its infancy there were no coats of arms
nor triumphant  echoes or laurels
and everything was lost in the year seventy five,
the big bosses invented and built the symbols.

The flag was then born, without history,
but flaming, blown by the wind always spirited.
The flag is black and red but it is also blue,
because it is erected on a high pole,
tense, it blends with the purest sky
of the eternal summer in the valley and its horizon.

An identifying shield.  And an anthem
which notes are refreshed by the river breeze,
between the storm of commerce and dreams,
these two things are the moving nobility  
of the city without coats of arms nor original laurels.

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