Aleksa Šantić Biography


Birthday: May 27, 1868 (Gemini)

Born In: Mostar

Aleksa Šantić was a Bosnian Serb poet whose most famous works spanned the ending of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth. He lived in the multi-cultural Balkans and based his work on both sensitivities to emotional truth and historical awareness, aided by his residence in an area which is historically volatile. He worked prolifically as a poet, publishing over 800 poems and six collections during his lifetime. He became editor-in-chief of 'Zora', (Dawn) a review of current Bosnian cultural events. As he matured in his creative efforts by writing songs in addition to poems and plays, he expounded on Muslim themes in which gardens and romantic longing played large parts. His political awareness inspired him to present his service to the Serbian government during the crisis when Austria-Hungary formally annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina early in the twentieth century, and he repeated his courageous actions when the Balkan War began a few years later. Due to his patriotic stance and writings, he was taken hostage during World War I by the Austro-Hungarian forces occupying Bosnia. Ill health plagued him for much of his adult life, but despite this he continued writing for his country until his death. To know more about his life and works read on
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Aleksa Santic

Died At Age: 55


father: Risto Šantić

mother: Mara Šantić

siblings: Jakov Šantić, Jeftan Šantić, Radojka Šantić, Zorica Šantić

Poets Male Poets

Died on: February 2, 1924

place of death: Mostar

Childhood & Early Life
He was born on 27 May 1868, in Mostar in the Ottoman Empire, in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina, commonly called Bosnia. His father, Risto, was a merchant, his mother, Mara, a homemaker and he had three siblings: Jeftan and Jakov and Radojka, with a sister Zorica dying in infancy.
By 1878, Bosnia was occupied by Austria-Hungary, which ruled it as part of its territory. During this tumult, his father died and his uncle obtained custody of Aleksa and his siblings.
His birth family had shown little interest in his lyrical talent, and so Šantić attended commercial schools at Ljubljana and Trieste. He returned to Mostar broadened by the exposure to other cities and determined to foster his literary career instead of going into business.
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In 1886, he published his first poem. His romantic poetry worked Muslim themes into a fresh form, as the settings of his poems ranged from gardens to fountains to hidden trysts with nearly unobtainable women.
'Gusle' was a Bosnian music association founded and presided over by him in 1888. He blended musical and literary Bosnian efforts into a strong patriotic force as he wrote songs in the manner of traditional Bosnian love songs called 'sevdalinkas.'
He became a symbol of maintaining Bosnian heritage for other patriots as his country experienced occupation. His patriotic poems such as 'Stay Here' written in 1896 portray the longing of people who stray away from their homeland and struggle to return back.
From 1897-1898 he translated Heinrich Heine from German to Serbo-Croatian. Heine's satirical wit and irony inspired Šantić, and he counted Heine among his influences, along with the Serbian poet Vojislav Ilic whose poetry's themes included cruel nature and man's moral decadence.
'Emina' from 1903 is perhaps his best-known poem. It evolved into ‘sevdalinka’ form and tells of the lover observing his beloved from afar, yearning to express his love yet knowing the love is unrequited, one of the many failures in life.
In 1907 he wrote 'Into The Fog,' a dramatization in verse, trying a new form of creative work. He wrote six other plays, in addition to some prose.
The Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 induced him to write intensely of his love for his homeland. This inspiration resulted in the book 'Na starim ognjistima' (On The Old Hearths) in 1913.
During World War I, he was taken hostage by the Austrian forces occupying his country. He was accused of disloyalty because of his fervently patriotic songs and poems.
In 1919, he translated the works of the Czech poet Svatopluk Cech into Serbo-Croatian. He became deeply interested in Czech language and literature, in particular that of Cech, who promoted ideals of Slavic unity, which also became Šantić's ideal.
Major Works
The romantic poem 'Emina' was based upon his observation of his teenage Muslim neighbor, Emina Koluder. The poem, which was set to music as a sevdalinka, has remained popular for over one hundred years, and has several covers on YouTube. From 1891-1913, seven collections of poetry by the eminent poet were published.
Awards & Achievements
As of 1914, he was a corresponding member of the prestigious ‘Serbian Royal Academy’ which was founded in 1841. The Academy is known now as the ‘Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts’.
Personal Life & Legacy
Throughout his life, he suffered from ill health and his death on 2 February, 1924 occurred from tuberculosis. The funeral of this patriotic poet was attended by members of all faiths.
Aleksa Šantić is a Bosnian village named for the poet. During the Hungarian Axis occupation of World War II, its name was changed to Fernbach; it resumed its original name post-war.
He is pictured on ten Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible marks bills. The term 'mark' refers to the German mark, to which the convertible marks bills' value corresponds.
Emina Koluder, the inspiration for the poem 'Emina', written by this eminent poet, married and produced fourteen children. She lived from 1884 to 1967.
This famous poet’s sister Radojka, nicknamed Persa, married his friend Svetozar Corovic. Corovic was also a patriotic writer, and died in 1919 after suffering brutal treatment in a Hungarian internment camp and developing tuberculosis there

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