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, July 15, 2011

Invocation (Invocación)

Here are more bits and pieces of the history of Colombia, later narrated through my Father’s poetry.

In October 1821, after the Constitution of Cúcuta was proclaimed, Francisco José de Paula Santander y Omaña (2 April 1792 – 6 May 1840) was elected by the newly gathered Congress as Vice President of The Gran Colombia. The nation was entrusted to him when General Simón Bolívar, the President of the new republic, decided to continue leading the republican forces against Spain in their southern campaigns in Ecuador and Perú.

Initially, Santander and Bolívar were considered close friends and allies, but gradually political and ideological differences emerged. It is considered by modern scholars that Santander believed in the sanctity of constitutional government and in the rule of law, perhaps to a greater degree than Bolívar, who allegedly thought that those concerns were secondary to what he perceived as the actual needs and solutions that historical circumstances demanded, and thus could be subject to flexibility.

After Bolívar died and the Gran Colombia broke up, Santander returned from exile in 1832 and served as President of Republic of New Granada from 1832 to 1836. He died in 1840 and was eventually considered as one of the original ideological founders of the Colombian Liberal Party.

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

Invocation (Invocación)

SANTANDER,     formed under the dry and brambled sun
                                of a perpetual scorching summer.

SANTANDER,     whose eyes, saturated
with the green of the valley
created hope.

SANTANDER,     wise magistrate,
with the wisdom
of our traditions.

SANTANDER,     man of character,
calm, with the courage
of our peacefulness.

SANTANDER,     co-operator of the Genius,
soldier and jurist:
Bolívar’s interlocutor.

SANTANDER,     forged in the melting pot
of pulchritude,
example of integrity
in the magnanimities of power.

SANTANDER,     dignified under the vaults
of Cartagena,
facing capital punishment
and in the nostalgias of exile.

SANTANDER,     sleepless and brave captain
tamer of turbulent seas.

SANTANDER,     the Liberator’s rival
in the contradictions
of mutual work
and glory.

SANTANDER,     Forger of the Victory,
Man of the Laws,
from the silent eloquence
of bronze.

Guide us!

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