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, August 18, 2011

A few lines for the end of a year (Líneas para el cabo del año)

Opposite to what his funeral was, attended by more than 500 people from all walks of life, my father did not dream of grandeur, nor did he pursue fame. He was a simple but incredibly intelligent man who loved books, his family, history, beauty and justice. From my Dad’s book The celebrated afternoon (La tarde festejada).

A few lines for the end of a year (Líneas para el cabo del año)

He busied himself
in duties that were not his. He wished
he had been born in another latitude.
He felt the echo of his steps strange,
and his existence gloomy.
He said he knew a different light.
He used to run from himself
and spin like bark in the turmoil
of the familiar rivers.
Every now and then the melancholy.
Every now and then the nostalgia.
Always the loneliness.

He must have loved so much
because his heart looked like a bougainvillaea: the simple flowers
used to burst through the windows of his memories
covering the ugly grey branches
until they disappeared
in the entity of the lilac tree.

He would have wanted to invest his years
- all of his years – like a gardener
or like a sheep shepherd, or like the keeper
of a nursery that produced roses and roses and roses
with destination to everywhere
in the world, or like a baker
to knead with his hands
the secret of the wheat. Or like a
nocturnal custodian of roads
to talk to the moon
and the dew without intermediaries.

He died foreign to what he would
have liked to have done
and because of that there were no tears
or epitaph.

Oblivion fell softly
over his name.

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