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 26, 2011

Psalm 80 (Salmo 80)

To my dear grandmother Belén, a wonderful woman whose heart was so big that she married her deceased sister’s widower in order to look after her two little kids, my uncle Demetrio and my auntie Elvira. Then, from her marriage with my grandfather Don José she had my father, my aunties Herminia and Consuelo and my twin uncles Julio and Jorge.

From my Dad’s book The celebrated afternoon (La tarde festejada).

Psalm 80 (Salmo 80)

I believe that the turbulence of the times
that we suffer
(you in the height of the 80 stairs
and I on the line that begins to blur
with the first few lights of twilight)
contrasts with the dawn of the century
that you knew from its beginnings.

Your youth reached the summit of love
in the midst of the classic prohibitions of the grandparents
and your lips learnt to pronounce
one name that you loved forever.

Next to the robust flow of your most noble heart
the tree of goodness grew and was filled with fruit.
Your name was continued in the lineage
and Yahweh blessed you
nourishing the table of the family gatherings
with the freshness of bread and wine.

Under your sight the fountains have changed their path,
fountains that used to moisten
the suntanned skin of the city,
the ancestral trees were substituted,
just as the men who used to adorn their prestige and
their historic silence.

Your foot does not step on the stones
that used to cover the wide streets, sunny and beautiful.
The afternoon breeze passes by without destination
missing the fraternal roundabouts.
The river merely talks with a sad tone
and there are no kites in the August winds.

In the dim light of memory
you prove that your time of today is another time
and that your veteran heart has felt
the terrifying roar that crashes the Motherland.

I know that you would have preferred to not have seen the eclipse
of the protecting stars, nor the blood staining the rivers
and the streets, or piercing shadows in the middle of the day.
You, who believed in the immutability of the landscape
of tenderness and almond tree that your eyes enjoyed!

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