Tasos Leivaditis (1922–1988) is one of Greece’s most beloved poets. Born and raised in Athens, he experienced as a youth military conflict and, along with many other leftist writers such as Yannis Ritsos, persecution and imprisonment for his political allegiances. But out of this emerged a series of poetic masterpieces that continue to resonate with a Greek populace undergoing yet another crisis. One such work of enduring impact has been Violets for a Season, first published in 1985 and regarded as a crowning moment in both Leivaditis’ oeuvre and the postwar literature of Greece. The prose-poems and short stories of this volume are violets offered by Leivaditis as a funeral bouquet in a requiem for a generation defeated by lost causes. But a new path, albeit solitary and unfamiliar, is opened up, inaugurating a way beyond the old divisions and ideologies. This is a path that has left behind the certainties of the past, to make room for the frailties and complexities of life, for the vulnerability and tenderness memorably expressed in the prose-poem entitled “Aesthetics”, which provides the key to the poet’s entire aesthetics:
As for that story there are many versions. The best one though is always the one where you cry.
N.N. Trakakis teaches philosophy at the Australian Catholic University, while also writing, editing and translating poetry. He has previously translated The Blind Man with the Lamp by Tasos Leivaditis (Denise Harvey Publications, 2014).