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, August 23, 2011

The day of the laurel (El día del laurel)

Teodoro Gutiérrez Calderón was the composer of the lyrics for Norte de Santander’s anthem, which was formalised on October 22, 1932. From my Dad’s book Commemorations (Conmemoraciones).

The day of the laurel (El día del laurel)

Coronation of the poet
Teodoro Gutiérrez Calderón

Tireless, sweet and honourable old man!
Touching already the sublimity of the grey hairs
the warm reflection of his recent and old victories
and those of his future that still begins,
wants to reach him.
Too late perhaps, but human heat is
destroyer of snow and sadness.

The laurel arrives. These gold and silver
were melted down on the forge of the brother
to whom he sang when his voice
took care of equality among men.
From before his word was resonant
in painful and in victorious hours;
the polyphonic spell of his martial voice
was made into an anthem; and the icon
of our high protecting gods
lit on fire when Maestro Rozo wove
his melody in his loom of melody.

The children’s books collected
his simple patriotism:
The softness of his song endures the symbols,
and the children were as the Captain.

To obtain freedom his fate had the geometry
of his pure verse and this way rebelliousness vibrated
with the incantation of the
liberator cry of Sandino.

Builder of his own dreams
and fearless master of his wisdom,
still wanted to flatter
the very white philosophy of ignorance;
and the woman who hastens bitterness,
the pain, the pleasure and the caress,
and at the dead of night the fugacious exclusive news
and by the fugacious, oblivion and honey
have filled the master’s knapsack:
Leader of inspiration!

Teodoro, Teo returned from the absence.
From his altar plenitude announces
caressing old charms,
trying to sink there his bones
in order to make his presence eternal
in the city that now coronates him.

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