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 23, 2011

Memory of a man that sang to all creatures (Memoria de un hombre que cantó a todas las creaturas)

During ‘My Dad’s Poetry’ journey, I have learnt so much about him as an artist. I realise that he often visited his previous work, and as he saw it appropriate, he would select a poem close to his heart, which he then edited slightly, named it with a different title and published it in a new book. Here is his edited version of his poem Neruda, this time published in his book Urgent Poetry (Poesía de urgencia) and with a new dedication. What I would give to ask my Dad what made him go through this process? What made a poem special to him? Why new words?

Memory of a man that sang to all creatures (Memoria de un hombre que cantó a todas las creaturas)

To Alberto Duarte French.

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 purer 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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