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Aleksa Šantić

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[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia]

Aleksa Šantić (Cyrillic: Алекса Шантић) (May 27, 1868 – February 2, 1924) was a Serbian poet. He was born and lived most his life in Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina, then part of Austria-Hungary, where he also died. He attended merchant schools in Trieste and Ljubljana.

The oeuvre of Aleksa Šantić, widely accessible yet acutely personal, is a blend of fine-tuned emotional sensibility and clear-eyed historical awareness, steeped in the specifics of local culture. Drawing themes and imagery from his hometown Mostar, the atmospheric capital of Mediterranean Herzegovina, and its surroundings, his poetry is marked in equal part by the late-Ottoman urban culture in the region, its social distinctions, subdued passions and melancholy, as well as the South-Slavic national awareness that was growing all over what was later to become Yugoslavia.

As a Bosnian Serb who embraced the form and the sentiment of the traditional Bosniak love ballad sevdalinka, he was a pioneer in attempting to bridge the national and cultural divides, and in his lamentation of the erosion of population through emigration, that was the result of Austrian occupation. This combination of locally rooted, transcultural sensibility and a dedicated pan-Slavic vision has earned him a special place in the pantheon of South Slavic poetry.

He was strongly influenced by Jovan Jovanović Zmaj, Vojislav Ilić and Heinrich Heine. 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 river Neretva breathe pure Bosnian and Serbian patriotism and are considered particularly beautiful. Šantić wrote a number of love songs in the style of the Bosnian love songs, sevdalinkas. His most well known sevdalinka is Emina (female Bosniak name), to which music was composed and it is often sung at restaurants (kafanas).

Aleksa Šantić, a village in Serbia is named after this poet. He is also pictured on 10 Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible marks bill.