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, September 8, 2011

Flying kite, the flag – Introduction (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. Tonight I celebrate 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). Tomorrow, the actual poem.

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

To teach them how to say properly Motherland, Flag,
I taught my children a song
that I was taught on the rustic school desks
(poor little town school without whitewash on the walls,
with chairs of farmer craftsmanship, which,
on top of everything, were not enough for everyone).
Standing up, looking at one another with anxiety we could not hide,
a little teacher’s aide looked like she could be the sister of any of us.
When my children reached their use of reason,
after the concept of God, this is the first thing
that I endeavoured to teach them. This way they would
begin their knowledge with a prime concept of what
the Motherland and the Flag mean, how it rips you
to see them overshadowed. They could at least foresee them
full of light, of sun and of future from their innocence.
And when my children had grown up
and I saw them as whole men and women,
I let them know and comprehend that the Motherland in itself
is the sacred soil in which the bones of the parents sleep,
the seed of the grandchildren, the chained centuries of the history
of Colombia and the perspectives of our true civilisation…
and I endeavoured to write, with verses
and rhythms not used today, this poem.

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