A century and a half has passed since the birth of the great Serbian patriot, poet and eternal romantic from the Neretva. Aleksa Santic was and remains one of the most important poets of Serbian lyrics.
On this day, 27 May, in 1868, one of the greatest Serbian poets, Aleksa Santic was born in Mostar, a city that will mark his life, the same way he marked Mostar.
His poetry reflecting both the urban culture of the region and the growing national awareness. The most common themes of his poems are social injustice, nostalgic love, suffering of the Serb people, and the unity of the South Slavs. He was the editor-in-chief of the magazine Zora (1896–1901). Santic was one of the leading persons of Serbian literary and national movement in Mostar. In 1914 Santic became a member of the Serbian Royal Academy.
The first poems Santic published were inspired by older Serbian poets like Njegos, Zmaj, Vojislav Ilic and Jaksic. The first collection of Santic’s songs was published in Mostar in 1891.
He was influenced mostly by the poets Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj, Vojislav Ilic and Heinrich Heine, whom he was translating. He is said to have reached his greatest poetic maturity between 1905 and 1910, when he wrote his best songs. Santic’s poetry is full of emotion, sadness and pain of love and defiance of social and national disempowered people whom he himself belonged. His muse is at the crossroads of love and patriotism, beloved ideal, and suffering people. The topics and images of his poems ranged from strong emotions for social injustices of his time to nostalgic love. His poems about Mostar and the Neretva river are particularly praised. Santic wrote a number of love songs in the style of the Bosnian love songs, sevdalinkas. His most well known poem-turned-sevdalinka is Emina, to which music was composed and it is often sung at restaurants (kafanas).
His patriotic poetry is poetry about his motherland and her citizens (“My homeland”). In some of his most moving poems Santic sings about the suffering of those who leave the country forever and go into an unknown and alien world (“Stay here”, “Bread”). Santic emphasizes suffering and martyrdom as the most important moments in the historical destiny of the people (“We know destiny”).
During his life he wrote six volumes of poetry (1891, 1895, 1900, 1908, 1911, 1913), as well as some dramatizations in verse, the best of which are Pod maglom (In the Fog; 1907) and Hasan-Aginica (1911). He also translated Heine’s Lyrisches Intermezzo (1897–1898), prepared an anthology of translated German poets, Iz nemacke lirike (From German Lyrics; 1910), made Bosnian renderings of Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell (1922) and translated Pjesme roba (Poems of a Slave; 1919) from the Czech writer Svatopluk Cech. He also translated successfully from German. Santic was one of the founders of the cultural newspaper “Dawn” as the president of the Serbian Singing Society “Gusle”. There he met and socialized with famous poets of that era: Svetozar Corovic, Jovan Ducic, Osman Dikic, Milan Rakic.
Santic died on 2 February 1924 in his hometown of tuberculosis, then an incurable disease.