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, October 6, 2011

White rose (Rosa blanca)

It has been over a year since my father left his terrestrial body to look after his family from somewhere above us. I should be missing him so, so much, and believe me, I do. However, reading him every night and trying to understand the essence of each of his poems makes me feel closer to him than I ever did since I moved to Australia, ten years ago.

This blog has been an incredible personal journey. I have rediscovered so many intricacies of who my Dad was, what pained him, what made him happy, how he expressed his love.

Something I learnt, and I should have many years ago if I had paid closer attention, is that his books, as unique as they are, often included old poems that he simply wanted to re-publish in a new book or in his compilation The celebrated afternoon (La tarde festejada). Unfortunately for me, this means that I am running very very low in poems for my blog. In fact, after doing an inventory of all of the poems I have access to in the books I was able to bring from Colombia after Dad’s funeral, there are only a dozen poems left to translate. But I did not want to give up on my year-long project and tribute to my Dad. So I decided to continue translating the poems I have left, not every day but on special occasions. I will also throw in the mix one of my original poems here and there. Let’s see what you think.

White rose (Rosa blanca)

To my Father José Luis Villamizar Melo
on my first attempt at original poetry.

He taught me all I know
about life, love and passion,
he told me it was up to me
to make my dreams
become my fate.

He also taught me about forgiveness,
gratitude and compassion.
In the words of Martí
he asked me to grow a white rose
in July as in January
and to give it to the true friend
who offers his honest hand to me.

And for the cruel man who steals
the heart that keeps me alive,
he asked me not to give thistle nor thorn,
for him too, Dad said, grow a white rose.

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