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).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Potter of mothelands: Song to The Liberator – Part 2 (Alfarero de patrias: Canto al Libertador – Parte 2)

Part 2

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 2 (Alfarero de patrias: Canto al Libertador – Parte 2)

He says:
“you are with me
in the last flashes of lightning
of consciousness.”

To his memory come the countless images
of the journey
of his extraordinary existence…

It is the Roman afternoon of 805,
on the sacred hill,
his word raises like a wave
in the twilight.
He does not want to be like Octavio
who wears a disguise of public mercy.
He detests the crime
that replaced the tyranny of Caesar.

In Antonio he discovers
that he wasted his glory
on the galleys of a prostitute.
Sila is inept and a criminal.
Tiberius divided his time
between lust and slaughter.
And he takes the eulogy
of Vespasian and Trajan,
taking them as guides
for the projection of the greatness
of his humiliated land,
and he concludes under the stars:

“For each Cincinato
there were one hundred Caracallas,
for un Trajan one hundred Caligulas
and for one Vespasian one hundred Claudios…”

And he swears to be the Cincinato
that America was waiting for.

His name floats on every first light of dawn
and it feels in every twilight,
under the taciturn evening
and at the zenith of the suns of broken grounds.

There is no geography
that does not remember his triumphant step
toward the wild laurel
or toward a corner to die
of ungratefulness and oblivion.

There is no line of history
that is not written with his blood
nor one thought of freedom
that ignores his thought.

His hands pointed to pathways
and he took the first step
so the people could follow him
behind luminous perspectives.

With his sword he cleared up
the harsh undiscovered summits
and his rain cape looked like
wing in flight or crackling turbine.

His strength came from within
and it was expelled through his eyes,
his lips and the dreams
of his brain in combustion.

His voice of authority was like a bell,
or convocation or a flag,
it sounded and convinced
and his accent was heard in the world
forever since.

One day he looked at the mountain range
and found in the steep Andes
an eye of light in the fog
opening to freedom.

In each overflowing river,
in each cliff, in each crack,
in each inaccessible summit
he always found a path
that would take him to victory.

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