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, September 9, 2011

Flying kite, the flag (Cometa volandera, la bandera)

August came and left and not once I thought of the hot, windy afternoons I used to spent in that month during my childhood, making and flying kites, running free without a care in the world. Yesterday I celebrated my 180th blog entry with the introduction to the lovely poem Flying kite, the flag from my Dad’s book The celebrated afternoon (La tarde festejada). Tonight, the actual poem, but before you read it, this is really what makes the month of August so special for my country:

The Battle of Boyacá was the battle in which Colombia, then known as New Granada, acquired its definitive independence from Spanish Monarchy, although fighting with royalist forces would continue for years. This battle occurred 150 km from Bogotá in the Andes Mountains, in a place known as Casa de Teja on the 7th of August 1819. In commemoration of this battle, August 7 is a national holiday in Colombia. On this date every four years the elected President of Colombia is installed in the Presidential Casa de Nariño.

Flying kite, the flag (Cometa volandera, la bandera)

I hoist my song before
the luminous flying kite of August
made of still time and
of the graceful movement of time, the flag.

When the beginning was
in the waterfalls of the first dreams,
in the era filled with augural laurels,
the flag at full-mast, the flag.

In the dark around the night guard
hearts in full spring
build freedom in their dreams
with the supreme warmth of the flag.

Amidst the destruction, in combat,
in the last voice,
in the final look at the horizon,
in the final goodbye of agony, the flag.

In the grave adorned with laurels,
in the heroic ascent to the raised coat of arms
of the perpetuated life,
cry of love and tears, the flag.

For the soldier and the water-carrier
and the captain and the martial band,
in the light of the rainbowed rain,
in the cruel battle, the flag.

When peace arrives, in the silence
of the defeated hatred, the first light
of the original victorious day
will fade in the light of the flag.

It will be then like the synthesis of Motherland
in tricolour flying fabric-
piercing the blue blowing in the wind,
and tremulous
the flag!

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