I’ve come to know of Dimitris Liantinis the academic, philosopher, writer, translator and poet only the last five years. He’s the man whose system of ideas was greatly influenced by the philosophy of Ancient Greece as well as the ideals of the Romantics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. In reference to the scientific achievements of his time and especially in the realm of cosmology he attempted to formulate a connection between it and questions concerning the existence and nature of God. He wrote extensively about education, his own field and some of his writings focus on what he saw as the moral and intellectual decline of modern Greeks when compared to their glorious ancestors.
Since I’ve lived in Canada for the last 42 years and since I haven’t studied this man’s published works in detail, as I have with others, I choose not introduce this poetry book as I usually do but to leave it up to each reader to establish his or her own view after they delve into these poems. I only want to emphasize that I feel amazed by the penetrating glance and philosophical depth of Liantinis’ poems and at the same time I’m honoured that I was given the permission to translate and publish these poems for the English speaking reader.
I shall however present you my translation of the introductory note Nikolitsa Georgopoulos Liantinis professor of Philosophy at the Kapodistrian University of Athens, Dimitris Liantinis’ wife, wrote for the Greek publication of these poems in Greece, in 2006. I also like to extend my sincere appreciation and thank you to professor Nikolitsa Georgopoulos Liantinis for giving me her permission to translate these beautiful poems.
– Manolis Aligizakis
Hey, you leader of nature! Honored and master of everything
with many names in the evening vespers and in the matins
consul and censor in the guards and castles of time and
powerful mayor in the meetings of the agora.
You who with justice govern the holy and right law
hail to You! General and holder of the spear
you criss-cross two swords in your bandolier and
you fight the frontiersmen at the borders. Far away
in the magnetic field and in the gravity of the Atlantic
I admire the power and your reins.
You hold the wound of thunderbolt in your hand
like a captain holds the tiller of the boat
you draw a difficult path through the silence of celibacy
putting aside the panic of chaos and
you control along the line of the sustainable
the ship of the stars and the river of the universe.
You have the North Wind as your minister: killer and nocturnal
for the septiaemic and the audacious and
you have the torchbearer Sun as your throne advisor.
Pure athlete of the decathlon and the light
you make friends of the water and the devouring fire. You fashion a wreath
on the cornice of dawn made of the lightning and the night.
Your loving loneliness embraces everything
doves and snakes, fruits and volcanos and islands and shadows
the ah! And the mint.
Only that the fools don’t sense you
the unjust and the dedicated to hatred
never let their tumbled glance reach you
their infected breath
the cactuses of their hands
the spider webs of their minds.
Your chaste people welcome the foreigner
when silently they drink the mouth of the sea and
eat along with the months
they touch your chlamys in the blowing out of the lightning and
their hands, petrified does, show you.
When the shield of the sun
descended to the careenage of the west
the face of day melted
mummy thrown into the light.
Trees set traps for the birds there
where they’ve buried their height
a ship sinks into the soil
and the beasts of the forest
have gone astray to the mountain
The stars’ procurement revealed
blood of the ravine
slashing the skin of water
the flesh of things
cannot find refuge
Linos’ skinned body hangs
over the mast of midnight
about the author
Dimitris Liantinis, the author, educator, philosopher and poet, Professor of philosophy in education at the University of Athens until 1998, was born in 1942 in the prefecture of Lakonia.
He finished the High School of Sparta in 1960. He studied at the Department of Philology of the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Athens, graduating in 1966. Between 1968 and 1970 he taught philology in Secondary High School Education. Between 1970 and 1972 he studied at the University of Munich. Between 1973 and 1975 he taught again in High School Education. In 1975 he was appointed as assistant in the Laboratory of Pedagogy of the University of Athens. In 1977 he received his PhD from the University of Athens, of the Faculty of Philosophy, with distinction, the subject of his thesis being “The presence of Greek essence in the elegies of Duino” by Rainer Maria Rilke.
Outside of the University of Athens he also taught in Greece at the Maraslios Academy in Postgraduate Teacher training, at the PEK of Kifisia, Peristeri and Piraeas, and at the School of Police. He has given lectures at the Naval School of War and at the Military School of Health. He authored books of philosophical reflection with a particular personal and characteristic poetic style, but with a succinct flavour. In 1972 in Munich he met Nikolitsa Georgopoulou, Professor of Introduction to Philosophy and History of Philosophy at the University of Athens, whom he married in 1973. On the 1st of June 1998, Liantinis disappeared from his family and his university environment.
Manolis (Emmanuel Aligizakis) is a Greek-Canadian poet and author who has written three novels and numerous collections of poetry. His articles, poems and short stories in both Greek and English have appeared in various magazines and newspapers in Canada, United States, Sweden, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Australia, and Greece. His poetry has been translated into Spanish, Romanian, Swedish, German, Hungarian languages and has been published in book form or in magazines in various countries. His translation book George Seferis-Collected Poems was shortlisted for the Greek National Literary Awards, the highest literary recognition of Greece.
He heads Libros Libertad, an unorthodox and independent publishing company that he founded in 2006 with the mission of publishing literary books. He was recently appointed an honorary instructor and fellow of the International Arts Academy, and awarded a Masters for the Arts in Literature.
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