The people’s poet in more ways than one, Tasos Livaditis stands apart from other poets of his era because of his deep understanding, his heart rendering existential agony, initially expressed as a tender cry filled with compassion within the boundaries of his optimistic realism and on the second phase of his creative career as an introverted search for the meaning of life in the past after the dissolution of his expectations as an artist-fighter for a better future.
The calendar will show October
with the wilted leaves and revolutions
It was October when he said farewell to us. We kept his most recent verses that underscored that message yet not only.
Here I’ve come to the end. Time to go. As you will also go.
and the ghosts of my life will search for me
running in the night and leaves will shiver and fall.
Autumn comes this way. For this, I say to you,
let us look at life with more compassion, since it was never real.
For my brother Tasos Livaditis
In awe you have waited for them. And they’ve come.
Your dead have come to take you
in the light night drizzle. You stood for a while
under the street lamp at Metaxourgio square
listening to the voices of drunks coming from taverns
and the old folk songs you loved and
from far away the rebellious slogans
of the construction workers on strike
calm, at last, completely hidden
under the shadow of that flag
that the shouting populace had raised. Now
you’re asleep with a deep smile, knowing
the dead don’t grow old anymore
they neither lie nor die.
However who will console our sorrow
as we stand isolated before the locked door?
about the author
Tasos Livaditis (Anastasios Panteleimon Livaditis) was born in Athens April 20, 1922, son of Lissandros Livaditis and Vasiliki Kontoloulou. He was enrolled in the Law School of the University of Athens. German occupation interrupted his studies and his involvement with the Resistance and the political party EPON. His father, bankrupt by this time died during the occupation years and while the poet was exiled in Makronisos his mother also died. In 1946 he got married to Maria Stoupa, the valuable companion of his life and they had a daughter, Vassiliki.
That same year he made his first literary appearance with the publication of his poem The Hatzidimitri Song in Elefthera Grammata. In 1947 he coordinated the release of the literary magazine Themelio. The years 1948-1952 he was exiled in Moudros, Saint Stratis, Makronisos along with all leftist artists and thinkers, Yannis Ritsos, Aris Alexandrou, Manos Katrakis, and many others. In 1952 his poetry books Battle at the Edge of the Night and This Star is for all of us were noticed.
Three years later he was taken by the police because of his book It Blows in the Crossroads of the World but he was acquitted. His book Women with Equine Eyes, 1958, was a landmark in his literary career and his turn into the introverted and existential poetry of his middle life. In 1961 he went on a country tour along with Mikis Theodorakis who presented his poems set in music and Tasos Livaditis interacted with the audience reciting his poems and talking to them.
The same year he collaborated with Kosta Kotzias in the writing of the script and the poems for the Alekos Alexandrakis film Neighbourhood of Dreams which was the turning point of Greek cinema but which was censored by the police. Livaditis co-operated with the newspaper Avgi from 1954-1980 with the exception of seven years during the dictatorship of the four colonels and with the magazine Art Review 1962-1966 where he published a few political reviews and critiques.
During the dictatorship 1967-1974 he translated various Greek literary works for commercial magazines in order to earn his living while he reminiscent the old days of the struggle and he reflected at the harshness of modern day life something he couldn’t accept a stand that reflected in his poetry of those days and in particular in his book Night Visitor. In 1986 he published his book Violets for a Season which is considered his swan song. He died in Athens, October 30th 1988 of an abdominal aneurism. The rest of his hand written poems were published after his death in a book titled Autumn Handwritings. He was the recipient of the First Poetry Prize in the World Youth Poetry Festival of Warsaw 1953, the First Poetry Prize of the City of Athens, 1957; the second National Literary Prize for poetry 1976; the First National Literary prize for poetry 1979.
Livaditis was a founding member of the Company of Writers. His verses were set in music by Mikis Theodorakis, Manos Loizos, George Tsagaris and other Greek music composers.
about the translator
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.
More on Manolis Aligizakis