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 13, 2011

The shield (El escudo)

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

The shield (El escudo)

Five irises made of silver and red
were taken and put on the shiny golden background
of Doña Juana’s shield.

A Roman magistrate’s spear,
an axe of life and death and a bundle
of native arrows.

Around these elements the noble title
that the city achieved when it was no longer a large farm
and became “courageous village, noble and loyal”
and with a patron: Saint Joseph, rigorous and triumphant.

It is the shield of the Juanes’ land,
which has served its Quixotes to fight in the open air
against the Yanguesans and pirates.

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