Serbian Classics Press

publishing classic Serbian literature

Songs of the Sun, and of Love and Death

by Jovan Dučić

Jovan Dučić appeared at a crucial point in the history of Serbian literature, the turn of the century, when the era of Romantic and Realist poetry was coming to a close and another, Modernism, was just beginning. By introducing new themes and sources of inspiration, Dučić was instrumental in setting Serbian poetry on a new course. He was an aesthete, with cultivated, refined tastes and an aristocratic spirit. He is the best known practitioner of l’art pour l’art in Serbian literature. In his poetry, he strove for formal excellence expressed through clarity, precision, elegance, musical quality, and picturesque images. His subject matter and unique style reflect the manner of French verse—Parnassian, Symbolist, Decadent. Unlike previous Serbian poets, who were either romantically or realistically oriented, Dučić was attracted to esoteric, sophisticated, thought-provoking, and soul-searching themes, creating his own lonely world of the imagination and reacting to it. His poetry reveals a sensitive artist with a basically pessimistic outlook, for which he has sometimes been criticized; it also reveals his embrace of art for art’s sake. His supreme craftsmanship, however, is undeniable.

The poems selected for this edition, which commemorates the sixtieth anniversary of his death, represent his finest work. -- Vasa D. Mihailovich