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).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Potter of mothelands: Song to The Liberator – Part 1 (Alfarero de patrias: Canto al Libertador – Parte 1)

Part 1

Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Blanco, commonly known as Simón Bolívar (July 24, 1783, Caracas, Venezuela – December 17, 1830, Santa Marta, Colombia) was a Venezuelan military and political leader. Together with José de San Martín, he played a key role in Hispanic-Spanish America's successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire, and is today considered one of the most influential politicians in Latin American history.

Following the triumph over the Spanish Monarchy, Bolívar participated in the foundation of the first union of independent nations in Hispanic-America, a republic, which was named Gran Colombia, and of which he was president from 1819 to 1830. Bolívar remains regarded in Hispanic-America as a hero, visionary, revolutionary, and liberator. During his lifetime, he led Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, and Bolivia to independence, and helped lay the foundations for democratic ideology in much of Latin America.

Reaching out to Colombians out there to help me celebrate my father’s Song to the Liberator. A great admirer of Simón Bolívar, Dad wrote Motherland potter in 1989 and published it as a booklet, sponsored by the Institute of Culture of Norte de Santander and the Municipal Centre of Cúcuta. I have divided the long poem in four parts for the reader to digest and enjoy slowly…and also to keep the suspense.

Potter of mothelands: Song to The Liberator – Part 1 (Alfarero de patrias: Canto al Libertador – Parte 1)

There is no better eulogy
than a free republic.
The one who does these things
is always good, and I have endeavoured
to be a potter of republics,
not an easy task, but at the same time,

Simón Bolívar

His words had a salty taste
of sea water.
The sea surrounded them
with its roar.
The storm used to make
the niche of hymns and flags
that fed his melancholy
crackle in his magic brain.
The scrivener used to perceive his thoughts
and each sign seemed to burn
the naked skin of history.
He felt forgotten, dispossessed and alone,
abandoned and sad,
him, larger than Hannibal!
potter of motherlands
under the light of the suns of America
that looked at each other in his sword.

He used to foresee death
and presented it with offerings
on behalf of the towns
that he governed and freed.
And retaking the old laurels
and the bitterness
that nourished the cup of his destiny,
he understood in the final hour
the vanity of the human glories.

In the zenith light
his own light diffuses,
coming from the bottom of his soul.
In the silence of the things
that surround him,
the flowers and the trees,
the crystal clear fountain,
the warm winds
that sing sad melodies,
his thought can be heard
like the echo of a gigantic voice
that yelled from the highest peak of the Andes
Liberator! Liberator, get up!
Do not die, sir! It is necessary
that your voice and the signs of your command
reach the conscience
and flatten the paths
of contradiction and hopelessness.

The light and the fierce deafening sea
merely perceive the sequence
of the man already fighting his dawn.
His rambling eyes
discover other eyes in the shadow.
In them there is the fire
of the volcanoes
and in his word infallible fire…

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