The people’s poet in more than one way, 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 to us farewell. 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.
He never imagined that the ghosts of his life would multiply in such a fast pace soon after his death. The adventure of his vision turned out to become a hardship, the rapid fashion of change in social behaviour and charting even unforeseen by the most suspicious of men truly shifted dramatically in the short nineteen years after his death. Within just one or two years after his death the so called socialistic dream collapsed in an unforgiving way that turned the obviously existent into a fable.
However Livaditis knew deep inside that only the Just Time eventually justifies one. Today the Just Time says about Livaditis that he was one very important poet. He was not at all insignificant although not recognized enough. Because as times passes and values change or shift position the Just Time sets laws and flawless details in the Stock Market of Values.
Tasos Livaditis is one of the last poets who dreamed of a different Greece and gave all he had to turn that dream into reality. He was one of the last who believed in the collective versus the personal even if that collective meant dramatic adventures, not only his exile and persecution but also the adventure of his internal revolution. The person who dreamed of a better world was embittered when he realized the utopia of his vision. Yet he never lost faith in man and although the serious severing that took place in his life scared him he always stood gracefully opposite the descending sun and in that glamour of red dusk he wept alone but with optimism for the future.
Unfortunately his life was cut short and at the age of 66 when he departed leaving a nation to mourn the people’s poet and to reflect and shift their focus toward his vision because the world of the poet is the world of humiliation and exhaustion. It’s the world of bitterness and futility and Tasos Livaditis suffered a lot, was persecuted a lot and pendulated a lot in his life. How else could he write such great poems?
There is a similarity in the life of this man and the life of Yannis Ristsos whom Tasos Livaditis refer to as the teacher. Both men were leftists along with Avgeris, Varnalis, Anagnostakis and others, they were both exiled for their political views, they both left behind a vast bibliography, they both had one daughter and they both went through a poetic shift, a change of focus from writing poetry to serve the cause of the left to writing poetry having in its center the progress, improvement and refinement of the external and internal pleats of man.
In the Introduction of this edition I have added one poem written by Yannis Ritsos and excerpts from reviews written in Greek by friends and close associates of the poet on the twentieth anniversary of Tasos Livaditis’ death. I have translated these excerpts and place them in the order I thought most appropriate. I chose to introduce this great poet to the English speaking world not only with the regular introduction format but also with these comments published by Kedros in 2008, this poet’s exclusive publisher.
The sources of these reviews are referred to in the bibliography of this book.
My heartfelt thank you is extended to Mr. Stelios Petros Halas for granting me his permission to do this translation.