Serbian poetry: Aleksa Santic

Aleksa Santic (Алекса Шантић)
Aleksa Santic [ Serbian: Алекса Шантић ] (Mostar, 27 May 1868 - Sarajevo, February 2, 1924) was a Serbian poet from  Herzegovina [ associated with the liberation movement ]


Last night, returning from the warm hamam, 
I passed by the garden of the old imam,
And lo, in the garden, in the shade of a jasmine,
There with a pitcher in her hand stood Emina.

What beauty! By my  faith I could swear, 
She wouldn’t be ashamed if she were at the sultan’s!
And the way she walks and her shoulders move...
-Not even a hodja’s amulet could help me!

I offered her salaam, but by my faith, 
Beautiful Emina wouldn’t even hear it.
Instead, scooping water in her silver pitcher,
Around the garden she went to water the roses.

A wind blew from the branches down her lovely shoulders
Unravelling those thick braids of hers.
Her hair gave off a scent of blue hyacinths,
Making me giddy and confused!

I nearly stumbled, I swear by my faith,
But beautiful Emina didn’t come to me.
She only gave me a frowning look,
Not caring, the naughty one, that I’m crazy for her! [4]

                                            Aleksa Santic:Emina /  Performer: Vule Jeftic 
He was born in Mostar, where he spent most of his life. His father died during early childhood, and lived with the family of his uncle. He had two brothers Pero and Jakov, and one sister Radojka who later married a poet and Aleksa's friend Svetozar Corovic. Having lived in the merchant family, family members had little understanding of his talent. He graduated from trade school in Trieste and Ljubljana, then returned to Mostar.

Mostar at the end of 19th century
From Trieste he returned to Mostar in 1883. and there he found "strange lethargy", which was the result of "the recently quelled Herzegovina uprising against Austria," as he writes about it to Vladimir Corovic. He was "at the beginning quite withdrawn," has kept books in his father's store, and read "newspapers and books which he could get in Mostar." Several years later he started his literary and social work.

The greatest works he created in the late 19th and early 20 century. His role models were  Serbian writers Vojislav Ilic, Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj, and from the foreign writers the most respected was Heinrich Heine.
In his songs there are the emotional pain, patriotism, love yearning and defiance for the nationally and socially threatened Serbian people.

He published his first poem in 1886, and first collection of poems in 1891. Other than poems, he wrote poetic plays, among which the most famous are "In the fog" and "Hasanaginica" (last was written based on motives of famous folk song)

(sitting) Svetozar Corovic, Simo Matavulj, Aleksa Santic and Janko Veselinovic.
(second row) 
Slobodan Jovanović and Milorad Mitrovic
(third row) Mile Pavlovic 
Krpa, Atanasije Shola, Radoje Domanović, Svetolik Jaksic,Ljubo Oborina, Risto Odavic and Jovan Skerlic

In 1887. he became an associate of the "Dove", then "Bosnian fairy", "New Zeta", "Maple", "Homeland." In 1888. he was the founder and president of the Serbian Singing Society "Gusle", which adopts the program for cultivation and the development of the songs and the national consciousness.
Then he was elected first vice-president of Mostar's subcommittee "Education". In the year 1896. when the "Dawn" was launched, he was one of its first editors.
"Dawn" literary magazine
1902. he went to Geneva, but there he barely "endured three weeks, in the naive poem,
" I can not be here" he cried wholeheartedly that he can not stand living abroad." 1907.
Mostar has elected him "as one of its four representatives" of the Assembly of First National Organization. 1908. his health seriously deteriorated, first by stone in the kidney, and later, after World War I, the tubo paralisis.
During the annexation crisis he, together with Svetozar Corovic and Nicholas Kasikovic, fled to Italy and placed himself at the disposal of Serbian government, as he would do again in 1912. at the beginning of the Balkan War.

During the World War I he was taken as a hostage by the Austrians and "in the twice-repeated litigation" accused because of his songs. After the war, in Mostar he was elected a member of the Serbian Committee.

During his life, literary criticism has pointed out two fundamental and strong feelings in his poetry. The first feeling is fervent love for his people.
Since the beginning this feeling occurs mostly in three aspects:
as a pride with heroic past,
as a protest against the painful reality and
as faith in a better future that will be aquired through the struggle and victory, which will represent the resurrected past.

Stay Here

Stay here!… The sun that shines in a foreign place,
Will never warm you like the sun in your own;
The bread has a bitter taste there
Where one has no one, not even a brother.

Who would find a better mother than one’s own,
And your mother is this country;
Take a look upon the limestones and the field,
Everywhere are the graveyards of your great-grandfathers.

For this country they were noble giants,
Lights who knew how to defend it,
You, too, should stay in this country,
And give the fund of your blood for it.

As a deserted bough, when the autumn winds
Tear its leaves and slash it with ice;
Your motherland would be without you,
Like a mother crying for her child.

Do not let tears run down her face,
Return to it in the world’s embrace;
Live in order to be able to die
On its battlefield where glory comes to greet you!

Everybody knows and loves you here,
And nobody will recognize you there;
Even the barren limestones are better here
Than the flowers in the fields of a foreign place.

Everybody shakes your fraternal hand here –
In the foreign land, wormwood blooms for you;
For us, amongst the limestones, everything connects:
Name, language, brotherhood, and holy blood.

Stay here!… The sun that shines in a foreign place
Will never warm you like the sun in your own -
The bread has a bitter taste there
Where one has no one, not even a brother…[2]

Protest against the painful reality, as one of the forms which of expression of patriotic feelings, is often found in the poems of Santic. One of them is pointing to people's misery caused by heavy enemy plunder - as, for example, in the poem "Oh, my grains" in 1910. year:

All your anguish, black slave's labor
shall be eaten by the mighty at their feasts and banquets
and to you, like a dog in chains,
they shall cast the crumbs ... Oh, shame and fright!

Another statement of protest is his accusation of dishonored and pitiful time. This accusation is measured according to the heroic past and the demands of the future which is also determined by a heroic past. In this spirit, for example, is the poem from the 1908. The verse that begins "dishonored and wretched time."

Unlike most poets of his time, especially Ducic and Rakic, who increasingly looked up to European ideals, Santic has remained faithful to the end to the national and social ideals of the past century.
He wrote about freedom, Serbdom, social justice.
His muse fled "the mad rush of modern life'' and sought faces "without the lies and masks'', in attempt to fully devote herself to the people that are always closest to her heart (see the program, Let's go Muse, Muses) That "service'' of hers is often expressed using Christian symbols, which form an important feature of Santic patriotic and social poetry.

The love poetry of this Mostar poet developed under the strong influence of Muslim love songs "sevdalinke".
The ambiance of his love poems is the atmosphere of gardens, Behar, hammams, water fountains, ... Girls who appear in them are decorated with necklaces, they are fabulous and enchanting and yet of a demure beauty.
Such is the poem "Emina", and spirit of the song was so appreciated that the song entered the people and is sang like "sevdalinka" and only few know that it was written by Santic. In love songs the most common motive is the longing. Poet observes all his beloved from afar and longing often turns into sadness over unrequited love and failure of man's life.

                              Aleksa Santic: Why aren't you coming?   /  Performer: Jadranka Stojakovic 
During his lifetime he published many poems, and among his works those which stand out are: "Hasanaginica", "At the old hearths," "Anđelija", "Nemanja" and "In the fog." The most famous of his poems are: "Emina" (1903), "Don't Trust" (1905), "Stay here" (1896), 'An Evening before the festivities' (1910), "Why aren't you coming?" (1897), "Evening at shells"(1904)," O my grains "(1910)," My homeland "(1908).

He also translated Heine's "Lyrisches Intermezzo" (1897–1898), prepared an anthology of translated german poets, Iz nemacke lirike (From German Lyrics; 1910), made Serbian renderings of Schiller's "Wilhelm Tell" (1922) and translated "Pesme roba" (Poems of a Slave; 1919) from the Czech writer Svatopluk Cech. He also translated successfully from German.

And Again My Soul’s Dreaming All About You

And again my soul is dreaming all about you,
And my heart is bursting and longing for you,
And your infidelity is setting aside,
Like when a dark cloud disappears from the sky.
And again you’re pure to me, brilliant, serene,
The vision of you warms me with a bliss,
So I’d again throw myself into your bosom
And watch the warm smile of your eyes.
The same way a slender fir struck by lightning
Still looks up at the sky waiting for more living,
And doesn’t think: the sky is carrying clouds
That will bring new thunders… [1]

 [ Kraj tanana sadrvana ]
Aleksa Santic, translations of poems by the famous Azra, jew [Htazar's] poem evidently  by Heinrich Hein.
Aleksa has translated this song 1923rd he published his book of translations of jew poem evidently  by Heinrich Hein called "From Hein lyricism."
Heinrich Hein: Der Asra  / Tranlsated by Aleksa Santic: Kraj tanana sadrvana 

The Asra

Every day so lovely, shining,
up and down, the Sultan’s daughter
walked at evening by the water,
where the white fountain splashes.

Every day the young slave stood
by the water, in the evening,
where the white fountain splashes,
each day growing pale and paler.

Then the princess came one evening,
quickly speaking to him, softly,
‘Your true name – I wish to know it,
your true homeland and your nation.’

And the slave said, ‘I am called
Mahomet, I am from Yemen,
and my tribe, it is the Asra,
who die, when they love.’ [9]

Aleska Santic  was elected a corresponding member of the Serbian Royal Academy 03.02.1914.
Aleksa Santic died  in Mostar on  02.02.1924. [3]

He died of tuberculosis in Mostar on  02.02.1924.

[1] by Spring
[2] Translated by Amila Čelebić
[3] by brano14
[4] Serbo-Croatian Poetry Translation

[7] Cjelokupna Djela Alekse Santica 
[8] Kraj Tanana Sadrvana, jevrejska poema,  zabelezio je Hajne,a  preveo Aleska Santic 1923

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