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Branko Miljković

Photo of Branko Miljkovic Branko Miljković (Serbian Cyrillic: Бранко Миљковић) (January 29, 1934 - February 12, 1961) was an iconic Serbian poet, one of the leaders of the Neo-Symbolist movement which had the mission of bringing together Surrealism and Symbolism.

In a preface to an anthology of his work, Ljubica Miletić (2001) writes that "already in the first lines of his first book ("Uzalud Je Budim" / "I Wake Her In Vain") begins Branko's contest with words, their internal battle, and dilemma: is the poet master of the words or do they rule over him. Unfortunately, that battle ends with the poem "Epitaph": "Ubi me prejaka reč" ("I was killed by too strong a word")."

He died prematurely in 1961 at the age of 27, found hanging from a tree in Zagreb. This controversial incident was officially recorded as a suicide although remains unclear to this day.

His work was strongly influenced by the teachings of the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus.

This Wolf Magazine article by Nicolas Cobic offers a more thorough insight into Branko Miljkovic's life and work.

A Letter to a Friend

15 April 2013 at 23:25

"Dear friend,

I don't know why, but I want to explain to you the essence of my failure from which I shall never again recuperate. First of all, you must know that my misery is not some simple love ache. Or rather, it is, if we understand my love as Eros in Espinoza's sense. That woman wasn't merely my lover. She was the first and foremost need of my soul. She was also my spiritual protector and my shelter. She was my protective shield from the metaphysical frost. Without Her I am directly and completely exposed to the nonsense of the Universe and the night. My loneliness is now absolute. There is no realm of pure meaning and poetry for me any more. My poems want my head now. There is no one to reconciliate me with them any more. She was the only one who knew how. Only, she didn't know that she does. With her, the most dangerous thoughts would turn into beautiful and harmless metaphors. Now, all that is raging and mercilessly charging at me. If only I could run away from what I said! I live in terrible fear. I fear to speak, to write. Each word could be the death of me. Most of poems that I wrote, I wrote before I loved Her, but only with Her, have I become the poet, that is, the one who is not affected by what he sings about, the one who has privileged position regarding to what he says. My poetry is losing every meaning now and turning into my worst enemy. Maybe I would have become a real poet if that wonderful woman had stayed with me. This way, I am the one who played with fire and burned to ashes. Defeat can not be a triumph, no matter how grand it is. By losing Her, I lost both my strength and my gift. I can not write anymore. There is only misery left that can not create anything but more misery. Do you remember, dear friend, that I wrote the verse : "One unhappy man can not be a poet". Only now I see how true that is. I will try to live on, though I am dead more than all the dead combined. This terrible suffering is the last piece of humanity in me. If I outlive it, don't expect anything good from me. But I don't think I will.

Wishing you all the best


If you wish to write to me, write about Her. Anything. Not in reference with me. What does she eat, if she's sleeping well, if she's having cold etc.; You could know all this. Every detail about her is priceless to me. If I stop thinking about Her, I will start thinking about death.

It is midnight. Goodbye.


(Translated by Aleksandra Milanović)

Pesme / Poems

Za one koje volimo / For those whom we love

Smrću protiv smrti / By death against death

Noć s one strane meseca / Night on the far side of the moon

Sedam mrtvih pesnika / Seven Dead Poets

Ciklus tragični soneti / Tragic Sonnets Cycle

"Une idée dans un sonnet, c’est une goutte d’essence dans une l’arme de cristal" – Saint Beuve

Kritika poezije / Critique of poetry

Pohvale / Odes

Patetika vatre

Smeli cvet / Bold Flower

Četiri pesme o snu / Four poems on dream

Osećanje sveta / Feeling of the earth


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