Poems by Lito Seizani

The prehistoric lion of Kea

In a rock is the lion immured
He looks far away, he feels sleepy
This philosophic relic
Contemplates eternity

For years he’s sat in the same place
Countless images he must have seen
Perhaps he feels sad
As he cannot turn left or right


A poem by L.Seizani
translated from the Greek by Therese Sellers

The stairs creak, the icons fade
The furniture has worn out
What is left of you crumbles
But what you left still lives
Because you were something greater
Beyond what is human, far from what is mortal
You were history and religion
All that is humble, all that is Greek
Your shabby little house on Skiathos
Your pen and your papers
Are only a poor remembrance
Of what you really were

Skiathos, 21st of July 1991.From the collection The prehistoric lion of Kea

Ravenna 2

“Holy lust for life
sweet Venus of rimmel”
Sang a guy on the sidewalk
In Ravenna, the beautiful city where I missed
The tomb of the great, inspired Dante
“Holy lust for life”
He sang with guitar in hand
And I gave him a few liras
For a much-loved tune
By a much-loved, famous Francesco
The street musician found the money very little
And he was right, it was very little
For a godlike song that rose to the sky
And flew over the roof-tops of byzantine Ravenna
Piercing the heart of an artistic and oversensitive Lito
Who was ready to abandon family and country
And sit down there on a street corner
To sing forever with an unknown musician
Asking passersby for their change
Lito Seizani, Feb.2002.

Note: The street musician was singing Francesco De Gregori’s Rimmel
Thanks to Therese Sellers for her help with the translation


Don't look at my turquoise beads
On the castle the flag waves in the breeze
The turrets are clearly visible
Yesterday when the sun was setting
A sentry had to strike the flag
His thirsty roving eye
Looking about for foreign girls
My holidays finish tomorrow
Don't look at my turquoise beads
I'm going back to my old routine
I will not see these rocks again
Rising sharply from the sea
Naked they spread their white bodies
Which never get sunburnt
I'm sharing this beach
With Norwegians and Swedes
And other Scandinavians
Whatever they feel
I'm feeling too
Perhaps even something more
No, I don't need long words
"This is my own Greece"
I'm not strong enough
I don't want to be exclusive
Only to lie on the sand
A body that gets a tan
On the seaweed which gives off a discordant smell
I am squandering my love for my country
My holidays finish tomorrow
I will remove from my hair
My turquoise beads

Molyvos (or Methymna): ancient city on the island of Lesbos
Translated by Lionel Scott and Susan Scott



We'll go some day together and you'll see them
You'll see the pines at Mistra with my eyes
You'll see the red churches and the palaces
I was young when I was told for the first time
That, if you want, you can still hear at Mistra
The echo of the horses' hooves
Climbing powerfully up the cobbles
As they carry the Villehardouin knights
Back to join their princesses
In their stately sunlit chambers

One day I'll take you and we'll go to Mistra
You must not die without seeing this marvel
It will be noon and the sun will burn fierce in the sky
You will appreciate this place more in the heat
The sun will polish the history of Mizithras
Its Byzantine domes will look the more splendid
I'll take you there one day to see the valley below
And to hear, if you can, the sound of the horses

Mistra (formerly Myzithras): Byzantine city,
capital of the Greek imperial dynasty of the Paleologi;
in the 13th century under the domination
of the French dynasty of the Villehardouins.

Translated by Lionel Scott and Susan Scott

One more Roman spring

Now it's the time of Rome
Spring fragrances spreading from the borgate
Up to the gardens of Villa Borghese

The sun, not loud in its glory here
Shines reservedly as it  becomes
The nice red colour of the buildings

Rome -Rome of Pasolini's, of Moravia's, my own
In the countryside roads, people are selling artichokes
And the nearby fields are full of poppies

Spring must have entered Rome by now
Others must be enjoying it; others, and not I
Who suffer of nostalgia here


Most serene is Venice still
Quiet her palaces, her churches
Her thronging visitors do not trouble her
Nor rain nor storm perturb her

Most serene she endures the centuries
Her cupolas glorify God
The doges and their intrigues have vanished
Their benedictions alone have survived time

Most serene for her people and for strangers
For all who can perceive her eternal grandeur
In the canals, beneath the muddy water
Behind the carnival masks

Most serene for me is Venice
More and more I love her
As time goes by I know her less
Yet more often do I sing her praises

I feel the all-powerful magic
The myth exercises upon me
And the reality of today
Most serene, in truth, remains my Venice

Translated by Lionel Scott and Susan Scott

The Spring by Botticelli

What does she want from me?
Her face, somewhat ironic
Pale on cheap reproductions
Somewhat coarse on copies
Still always Spring
Always by Botticelli

(from the piece «Beauty and the paintings of Botticelli»
that you can read here )


God's animals face problems as well
They fight among themselves, or against heat and hunger

The bird that looks like a camel
Puts its head into the sand

Often humans have to go through the same torments
They're hot or cold, they have nothing to eat

Even myself when I want to clear ugly thoughts from my mind
I dream of a hole in the hot sand to hide my head


Even the empty house
Can now create verses
An almost human mouth
Is through its walls expressed

Abyssal fish

There are fish which live down in the deep
In dark blackness, in hideous waters
They look hateful and not of this world,
Transparent but frightful and fearsome

The fish with the masks of hate
In dark blackness, in hideous water
These fish which live down in the deep
My wish is not ever to see them