The famous poet from Mostar is known for his patriotic poetry, but also for love poetry, which he wrote under great influence of the Bosnian Sevdalinka. The most significant of these is “Emina”, a song that sings of the poet’s unfulfilled love.
But who was Emina, the legendary beauty from Mostar?
Near the house of the Imam Sefić lived Šantić’s sister and brother-in-law. Aleksa was very close to his sister and since she was his confidante, he visited her often. So one day he met the Imam’s daughter in the neighborhood. Emina Sefić had hardly grown up, when stories about her were already circulating all over the city. The young men told each other that Sefić’s daughter was not a woman but a “Huri (virgin) from paradise”.
In the alleys and quarters of the city people talked about Hafis’ beautiful daughter. About how her thick hair, braided in thick golden-brown plaits, prances across her back; that her eyes were like warm velvet, her lips – ripe cherries; two rows of teeth – two pearl necklaces; that Allah gave her the face of a ripening peach; how under her white shirt, buttoned up to the neck with mother-of-pearl buttons and the silky, flowery dresses hide her firm, healthy body, with a narrow waist and enticing gait. That’s what they said about Emina.
And so it was that one of the most beautiful poems of contemporary poetry was written that night in 1903.
Brother Pero was angry with Aleksa because of “Emina”.
The head of the house Šantić was of the opinion that his younger brother had mightily screwed up when he trumpeted in the “newspapers about the Imam’s daughter Sefić”.
He feared that this move of the young poet would drive the customers out of the shop and the Šantić’s might have to flee Mostar.
However, Imam Salih Sefić remained a customer of the Šantić’s and Mostar took no offence at the song about “an angel on earth”. On the contrary, it was sung about more and more loudly in the alleys of the Herzegovinian city.
At the age of 16 she married the equally beautiful Avdaga Koluder and gave birth to fourteen children. As she told her children herself, she had never exchanged a word with Aleksa Šantić, but remembered him all her life. Him and his shiny shoes and his trousers, so ironed that you could have cut yourself on them.
She remembered the sad voice when he was singing in the courtyard and that Mostar’s Muslims will never forget him when, out of respect for their religious rules, he walled up the windows of his new house because there were female children in the neighborhood.
Koluder Emina died in 1967.
According to the story, after learning of Emina’s death, the famous Sevdalinka singer Himzo Polovina went to see Sevda Katica from Donja Mahala, a woman known for the oral tradition of folk songs.
This is how the last verse of the song about Emina was written.
Umro stari pjesnik, umrla Emina,
Ostala je pusta bašča od jasmina,
Salomljen je ibrik, uvelo je cvijeće,
Pjesma o Emini nikad umrijet neće…