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 25, 2011


Pablo Neruda (July 12, 1904 – September 23, 1973) was the pen name and, later legal name of the Chilean poet and politician Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. He chose his pen name after Czech poet Jan Neruda.
Neruda wrote in a variety of styles, including erotically charged love poems, as he demonstrates in his collection Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair. In 1971 Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez once called him "the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language." Neruda always wrote in green ink in symbol of hope.

From my Dad’s book Commemorations (Conmemoraciones).


What a beautiful name now only a memory,
Pablo of a cliff and sea salt,
Pablo of abrupt battle and madrigals.

Captain of the dawn twenty times,
with the most beautiful voice that love ever used,
Pablo then more beautiful and more insightful.

The height of the ode found in him
humble things, simple, forgotten,
of prose in flesh and bone and vegetables.

Active soldier did not avoid the battle
and found words to provoke it
from the barricade of his verse.

Now Pablo is Pablo without change.
None of the earthly vanities will reach him,
because Pablo is already eternal.

I think that by the window the tide
raised to scrutinise the loneliness
of Pablo’s mourning house.

I will go to my sea to capture the sorrow
that in another distant sea surrounds the Black Island.

Pablo the master! Stammering Pablo!
Contradictory Pablo! Enormous Pablo!
Pablo arsenal of war always in war!
Pablo of cactuses and plum roses!
Living Pablo! Pablo under the ground!

Florence, September 25/73 

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