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Desanka Maksimović

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Desanka Maksimović (Serbian Cyrillic: Десанка Максимовић) (May 16, 1898 – February 11, 1993) was a Serbian poet, professor of literature, and a member of Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

Biography

Maksimović was born on May 16, 1898 in Rabrovica, near Valjevo, the oldest child of father Mihailo, a teacher, and mother Draginja. Right after her birth, her father was transferred, and they moved to Brankovina, where Desanka spent her childhood. She graduated from the gymnasium in Valjevo and the Faculty of Philosophy at the Belgrade University.

In August 1933 she married Sergij Slastikov, but they had no children of their own.

Desanka was a professor of Serbian language from 1923 until 1953 in several schools. First, she was a teacher at the Obrenovac gymnasium, then she moved to the Third Female Gymnasium in Belgrade. Eventually, she was transferred to the teachers' school in Dubrovnik, where she spent one year. After that, she worked in First female gymnasium in Belgrade. One of her best students was Mira Alečković, who also became a poet and a close friend of Desanka Maksimović.

When she heard of German soldiers shooting primary school children in Kragujevac, she wrote "Krvava Bajka" (trans. "The Legend of Blood" or, more literally "A Bloody Fairy Tale"), a poem that speaks of the terror practiced by German army in World War II. The poem was not published until after the war had ended.

She traveled across Yugoslavia, and befriended writers and poets such as Miloš Crnjanski, Ivo Andrić, Gustav Krklec, Isidora Sekulić, and Branko Ćopić.

Her poetry spoke about love and patriotism; it was enthusiastic and youthful, yet serious and sensitive. It is said that the Serbian language is best sung in the poems of Desanka Maksimović. Some of her best poems include: "Anticipation" ("Предосећање"), "Tremble" ("Стрепња"), "Spring poem" ("Пролећна песма"), "Warning" ("Опомена"), "In storm" ("На бури"), "I seek amnesty" ("Тражим помиловање"), "Sheared meadow" ("Покошена ливада") etc.

Desanka won a number of literature awards among them Vuk Award, Njegoš Award (1984) and AVNOJ Award. She was elected as honorary citizen of Valjevo.

In 1985, the primary school in Brankovina, where she began her education, was reconstructed. It was in this school that her father worked as teacher. Local people called it "Desanka's school", and that is now its official name.

While she was still alive, a statue of her was built in Valjevo, although she objected to it.

Because of the undying value of her poetry, Desanka Maksimović was elected on December 17, 1959 as an associate member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU), and on December 16, 1965 she became a regular member.

Desanka Maksimović died on February 11, 1993, in Belgrade, at the age of 95. She was buried in Brankovina, where she grew up.

After her death, the Desanka Maksimović Foundation was founded. This foundation organizes Desanka Maksimović award.

Literary works

Most important works of Desanka Maksimović are (list in Serbian):

    * Песме (1924)
    * Врт детињства, песме (1927)
    * Зелени витез, песме (1930)
    * Лудило срца, приповетке (1931)
    * Срце лутке спаваљке и друге приче за децу (1931, 1943)
    * Гозба на ливади, песме (1932)
    * Како они живе, приче (1935)
    * Нове песме (1936)
    * Распеване приче (1938)
    * Загонетке лаке за прваке ђаке (са Јованком Хрваћанин, 1942)
    * Шарена торбица, дечје песме (1943)
    * Ослобођење Цвете Андрић, поема (1945)
    * Песник и завичај, песме (1945)
    * Отаџбина у првомајској поворци, поема (1949)
    * Самогласници А, Е, И, О, У (1949)
    * Отаџбино, ту сам (1951)
    * Страшна игра, приче (1950)
    * Ветрова успаванка (1953)
    * Отворен прозор, роман (1954)
    * Пролећни састанак (1954)
    * Мирис земље, изабране песме (1955)
    * Бајка о Кратковечној (1957)
    * Ако је веровати мојој баки, приче (1959)
    * Заробљеник снова (1960)
    * Говори тихо, песме (1961)
    * Пролећни састанак (1961)
    * Патуљкова тајна, приче (1963)
    * Птице на чесми, песме (1963)
    * Тражим помиловање, лирска дискусија с Душановим закоником (1964)
    * Хоћу да се радујем, приче (1965)
    * Ђачко срце (1966)
    * Изволите на изложбу деце сликара (1966)
    * Прадевојчица, роман (1970)
    * На шеснаести рођендан, песме (1970)
    * Празници путовања, путописи (1972)
    * Немам више времена, песме (1973)
    * Летопис Перунових потомака, песме (1976)
    * Песме из Норвешке (1976)
    * Бајке за децу (1977)
    * Ничија земља (1979)
    * Ветрова успаванка, песме за децу (1983)
    * Међаши сећања, песме (1983)
    * Слово о љубави, песме (1983)
    * Памтићу све (1989)
    * Небески разбој (1991)
    * Озон завичаја (1991)
    * Зовина свирала (1992)

Stevan Raičković on Desanka Maksimović:


"Desanku Maksimović mnogi smatraju pesnikom ljubavi, mladosti i vedrine. Pesnikom zemaljskih lepota i plodova. U njoj, cini se,pre treba videti velikog pesnika velikih strahova i velikih sumnji. Ona je mozda najautenticniji pesnik Srbije. Ali je ona jos autenticnija kad opeva neku zemlju koja i jeste i nije; koja i postoji i ne postoji. I za koju se ne zna da li je pesnikov zavicaj ili zemlja njegovog progonstva. Prve svoje pesme Desanka je objavila 1920. godine u casopisu "Misao" i od tada ona neprekidno stvara, tako da spada u nase najplodnije pesnike. Objavila je oko pedeset knjiga poezije, pesama i proze za decu i omladinu, pripovedacke, romansijerske i putopisne proze. "Kada su se stvarale ove pesme, izvirali su stihovi kao voda; kao da sam neku cesmu otvorila. I sama sam se cudila kako su tekli glatko neprestano....Dogodilo se ono najpozeljnije, oblik i sadrzaj su sliveni, jedno drugo isticu i dopunjuju." - kaze sama pesnikinja. "Po svojoj motivskoj raznovrsnosti i bogatoj lirskoj skali od najjednostavnijih tonova do dubokih i misaonih sazvucja, lirika Desanke Maksimovic se ukazuje kao srecna mogucnost da poput vecite pesnicke senke prati svoga citaoca od njegovih prvih koraka u zivot, pa nadalje..."


"Many consider Desanka Maksimović to be a poet of love, youth and joy. A poet of earthly beauty and treasures. In her, it seems, one should rather see a great poet of great fears and great doubts. She may well be the most authentic Serbian poet. But she is even more authentic when singing of a country which is and isn't; which both exists and doesn't exist. And for which we don't know if it is the poet's homeland or the land of their exile. Desanka published her first poems in 1920 in the magazine "Misao" ("Thought") and has continued to create ever since, becoming one of our most prolific poets. She has published about fifty books of poetry, poems and prose for children and young adults, short stories, romantic stories and travel writing. In her own words, "When these poems were being created, lyrics flowed like water; as if I had opened some tap. Even I wondered at how smoothly they flowed. The most desirable thing had occurred, content and form were fused, at once originating from and complementing one another." In the diversity of their motifs and their rich lyrical range - from the simplest tones to the deepest thoughts and harmonies - the lyrics of Desanka Maksimović present themselves like a fortunate opportunity for the eternal poetic shadow to follow its reader from his first steps in life, onwards..."