Aleksa Šantić

Aleksa Šantić, born on 27 May 1898 in Mostar, was a Bosnian-Herzegovinian poet and one of the best-known representatives of modern poetry in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

He spent most of his life in his hometown Mostar. After his father died, his strict uncle took care of the family.
He had 2 brothers, Jeftan and Jakov, and his sister Persa, who was married to his friend Svetozar Corovic. His second sister Zorica died as an infant.
He lived in a family of merchants and no one around him could see his special talents.
After finishing business school in Trieste and Ljubljana he went back to Mostar.

He was chairman of the Serbian choral society “Gusle” in Mostar. There he met famous writers of that time: Ćorović, Jovan Dučić, Osman Đikić, and others.

In 1896 he founded the magazine Zora (Dawn) with Dučić and Atanasije Šolo, which was published without interruption until 1901.

The film “My Brother Aleksa” was based on a romanticized version of his life. The leading role was the Belgrade actor Branislav Lečić. The film music was composed by the conductor and composer Ranko Rihtman from Sarajevo, while the songs were sung by Dragan Stojnić, partly with the support of the octet Collegium Artisticum from Sarajevo.

Vojislav Ilić and Jovan Jovanović-Zmaj had the largest share in his poetic development. Heinrich Heine had the most important influence on his works among foreign poets. Šantić translated Heine’s work from the German language. He reached the highest poetic maturity between 1905 and 1910 when his most beautiful poems were written.
It was times of stormy social changes in Bosnia-Herzegovina in which Šantić actively participated.

Šantić’s poetry is full of strong emotions and heartache. It shows an emotional poet with an elegiac tone and melodic expression, who created a whole series of songs with deep inspiration and tone he experienced. Šantić’s love poetry grew under the strong influence of the Bosniak love songs, the Sevdalinka; his love songs take place in Bosnian courts filled with spring blossoms and fountains. The female characters that appear in his songs wear beautiful necklaces and are seductive, yet they possess a hidden beauty. So is the song “Emina”, which was adopted by the people as Sevdalinka. Longing is the most common motif of these love songs.
Šantić’s poetry is based on credible experience from his own life. Šantić falls in love at a young age with Slavonian girl Anka Tomlinović, the daughter of a poor photographer. He finally leaves her under the pressure of his orthodox family. A little later, already resigned, he met Zorka Šola, a young and wealthy girl from Mostar, who, at the insistence of her pragmatic family, had to end her relationship with the poet and leave him behind with a broken heart.

The second poetic theme that was characteristic for Šantić’s work had a homeland character.
The song “Stay here”, which appeared on the first page of Zora magazine in 1896, was aimed at all those Bosnian Muslims who, after the annexation of Bosnia by the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1878, left the country in large numbers for Turkey. The same goes for the shocking song “Brot” (Bread), in which Šantić describes the suffering of those who leave their homeland forever to settle abroad. In other songs, Šantić emphasizes suffering in general as an important historical moment (“We know fate”).

He died on 2 February 1924 in Mostar.


Ostajte ovdje!… Sunce tuđeg neba
Neće vas grijat k’o što ovo grije;
Grki su tamo zalogaji hljeba
Gdje svoga nema i gdje brata nije.

Od svoje majke ko će naći bolju?!
A majka vaša zemlja vam je ova;
Bacite pogled po kršu i polju,
Svuda su groblja vaših pradjedova.

Za ovu zemlju oni bjehu divi,
Uzori svijetli, što je branit znaše.
U ovoj zemlji ostanite i vi,
I za nju dajte vrelo krvi vaše.

K’o pusta grana, kad jesenja krila
Trgnu joj lisje i pokose ledom,
Bez vas bi majka domovina bila;
A majka plače za svojijem čedom.

Ne dajte suzi da joj s oka leti,
Vrat’te se njojzi u naručja sveta;
Živite zato da možete mrijeti
Na nijemom polju gdje vas slava sreta!

Ovdje vas svako poznaje i voli,
A tamo niko poznati vas neće;
Bolji su svoji krševi i goli
No cvijetna polja kud se tuđin kreće.

Ovdje vam svako bratski ruku steže –
U tuđem svijetu za vas pelen cvjeta;
Za ove krše sve vas, sve vas veže:
Ime i jezik, bratstvo, i krv sveta.

Ostajte ovdje!… Sunce tuđeg neba
Neće vas grijat k’o što ovo grije, –
Grki su tamo zalogaji hljeba
Gdje svoga nema i gdje brata nije…

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