Jovan Ducic
Jovan Dučić (February 1871 – 7 April 1943) was a Serbian
The Serbs are a South Slavic ethnic group of the Balkans and southern Central Europe. Serbs are located mainly in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and form a sizable minority in Croatia, the Republic of Macedonia and Slovenia. Likewise, Serbs are an officially recognized minority in...

 poet born in Herzegovina
Herzegovina is the southern region of Bosnia and Herzegovina. While there is no official border distinguishing it from the Bosnian region, it is generally accepted that the borders of the region are Croatia to the west, Montenegro to the south, the canton boundaries of the Herzegovina-Neretva...

, writer and diplomat.


The exact date of Dučić's date of birth is still undetermined; it is variously said to have been on 17 February (or 5 February according to the Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

) of 1871, 1872, or 1874, with the latter date most often given. He died on 7 April 1943 at age 72.

He was born in Trebinje
Trebinje is the southernmost municipality and town in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is administratively part of the Republika Srpska entity and is located in southeastern Herzegovina, some from the Adriatic Sea....

 in today's Bosnia-Herzegovina, where he attended primary school. He moved on to a high school in Mostar
Mostar is a city and municipality in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the largest and one of the most important cities in the Herzegovina region and the center of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton of the Federation. Mostar is situated on the Neretva river and is the fifth-largest city in the country...

 and trained to become a teacher in Sombor
Sombor is a city and municipality located in northwest part of Serbian autonomous province of Vojvodina. The city has a total population of 48,749 , while the Sombor municipality has 87,815 inhabitants...

. He worked as a teacher in several towns before returning to Mostar, where he founded (with writer Svetozar Ćorović and poet Aleksa Šantić
Aleksa Šantic
Aleksa Šantić was a Serb poet from Herzegovina.He was born and lived most his life in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, a province that was occupied by Austria-Hungary in 1878 and annexed by them in 1908...

) a literary magazine called Zora ("Dawn").

Dučić's openly expressed Serbian patriotism caused difficulties with the authorities—at that time Bosnia-Herzegovina was de facto incorporated into the Austro-Hungarian Empire—and he moved abroad to pursue higher studies, mostly in Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

 and Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. He was awarded a law degree by the University of Geneva and, following his return from abroad, entered Serbian diplomatic service in 1907. Although he had previously expressed opposition to the idea of creating Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

, he became the new country's first ambassador to Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 (in 1937). He had a distinguished diplomatic career in this capacity, serving in Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

, Sofia
Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 12th largest city in the European Union with a population of 1.27 million people. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha and approximately at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula.Prehistoric settlements were excavated...

, Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

, Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

 and Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

. Dučić spoke several foreign languages and he is remembered as a distinguished diplomat. His Acta Diplomatica (Diplomatic Letters) was published posthumously in the United States (in 1952) and in former Yugoslavia (in 1991).

It was, however, as a poet that Dučić gained his greatest distinctions. He published his first book of poetry in Mostar in 1901 and his second in Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

, 1912. He wrote prose as well: several essays and studies about writers, Blago cara Radovana (Tsar Radovan's treasure) and poetry letters from Switzerland, Greece, Spain and other countries.

Like Šantić, Dučić's work was initially heavily influenced by that of Vojislav Ilić
Vojislav Ilic
Vojislav Ilić was a 19th century Serbian poet of finely chiselled verse, son of the Romanticist playwright and poet Jovan Ilić. He was born in the capital of Serbia, Belgrade....

, the leading Serbian poet of the late 19th century. His travels abroad helped him to develop his own individual style, in which the Symbolist
Symbolism (arts)
Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French, Russian and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts. In literature, the style had its beginnings with the publication Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire...

 movement was perhaps the greatest single influence. In his poetry he explored quite new territory that was previously unknown in Serbian poetry. He restricted himself to only two verse styles, the symmetrical dodecasyllable (the Alexandrine) and hendecasyllable—both French in origin—in order to focus on the symbolic meaning of his work. He expressed a double fear, of vulgarity of thought, and vulgarity of expression. He saw the poet as an "office worker and educated craftsman in the hard work of rhyme and rhythm".
Dučić went into exile in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in 1941 following the German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 invasion and occupation of Yugoslavia, where he joined his relative Mihajlo (Michael) in Gary, Indiana
Gary, Indiana
Gary is a city in Lake County, Indiana, United States. The city is in the southeastern portion of the Chicago metropolitan area and is 25 miles from downtown Chicago. The population is 80,294 at the 2010 census, making it the seventh-largest city in the state. It borders Lake Michigan and is known...

. From then until his death two years later, he led an Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

-based organization (founded by Mihailo Pupin in 1914) which represented the Serbian diaspora in the US. During these two years, he wrote many poems, historical books and newspaper articles espousing Serbian nationalist causes and protesting the mass murder of Serbs
Jasenovac concentration camp
Jasenovac concentration camp was the largest extermination camp in the Independent State of Croatia and occupied Yugoslavia during World War II...

 by the pro-Nazi
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

The Ustaša - Croatian Revolutionary Movement was a Croatian fascist anti-Yugoslav separatist movement. The ideology of the movement was a blend of fascism, Nazism, and Croatian nationalism. The Ustaše supported the creation of a Greater Croatia that would span to the River Drina and to the border...

 regime of Croatia. During this time he attracted some criticism from other Yugoslav exiles, Croatian, Slovenian, and Bosnian Muslim separatists, for his espousal of Greater Serbia
Greater Serbia
The term Greater Serbia or Great Serbia applies to the Serbian nationalist and irredentist ideology directed towards the creation of a Serbian land which would incorporate all regions of traditional significance to the Serbian nation...

n ideas, a position which also attracted the attention of the US Government's Office of Strategic Services
Office of Strategic Services
The Office of Strategic Services was a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was the wartime intelligence agency, and it was a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency...

 (the forerunner of the CIA).

He died on 7 April 1943 and was buried in the Serbian Orthodox monastery of Saint Sava
Saint Sava
Saint Sava was a Serbian Prince and Orthodox monk, the first Archbishop of the autocephalous Serbian Church, the founder of Serbian law and literature, and a diplomat. Sava was born Rastko Nemanjić , the youngest son of Serbian Grand Župan Stefan Nemanja , and ruled the appanage of Hum briefly in...

 in Libertyville, Illinois
Libertyville, Illinois
Libertyville is an affluent northern suburb of Chicago in Lake County, Illinois, United States. It is located west of Lake Michigan on the Des Plaines River. The 2000 census population was 20,742; the 2005 estimate was 21,760...

. He expressed a wish in his will to be buried in his home town of Trebinje, a goal which was finally realized when he was reburied there on 22 October 2000 in the newly built Gračanica church.

Poet of Modernism

Dučić belongs to the Serbian Moderns; he is one of the three outstanding Serbian lyric poets of his generation, namely Aleksa Šantić
Aleksa Šantic
Aleksa Šantić was a Serb poet from Herzegovina.He was born and lived most his life in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, a province that was occupied by Austria-Hungary in 1878 and annexed by them in 1908...

 and Milan Rakić
Milan Rakic
Milan Rakić was a Serbian poet. He focused on dodecasyllable and hendecasyllable verse, which allowed him to achieve beautiful rhythm and rhyme in his poems. He was quite a perfectionist and therefore only published two collections of poems . He wrote largely about death and non-existence,...

. Coming under the influence of Pushkin and nurtured on his native Serbian folk poetry in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he was at first inclined toward western Romantic modifs: the baroque style, Catholicism, Romaniticism, and particularly toward the society of "the beautiful souls" of the Renaissance. Reminiscent of the ancient poets of Dalmatia
Dalmatia is a historical region on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. It stretches from the island of Rab in the northwest to the Bay of Kotor in the southeast. The hinterland, the Dalmatian Zagora, ranges from fifty kilometers in width in the north to just a few kilometers in the south....

, his motifs belong to the Dalmatian aristocratic milieu. Like other Neo-Romantics , Dučić sings of the "far-away princess" (the princesse lointaine of Rostand), who is dying of mortal wounds, far away from her lover. His poetry, which possesses serene beauty, is devoid of any personal note and is, in fact, pure fiction. He walks in the footsteps of Heine
Heine is a German family name. The name comes from "Heinrich" or the Hebrew "Chayyim" . When mentioned without a first name it usually refers ti the poet Heinrich Heine...

 and Heredia
José María de Heredia
José-Maria de Heredia was a Cuban-born French poet. He was the fifteenth member elected for seat 4 of the Académie française during 1894.-Early years:...

, evoking "the deep melancholy of the past" and "the scent of things old and vanished."

Whereas all these things become integral in the Western, Catholic and French lyric poets, in Dučić they strike us as a kind of literary exercise and as a heresy against the poet's Serbian Orthodox faith. Consequently Dučić has often been accused of snobbery and mannerism, and his poetry shows influences of Rodenbach
Rodenbach was a brewery and a brewing family from Roeselare, Belgium. The brewery is now owned by Palm Breweries. It is noted for its production of barrel-aged sour beers in the Flemish tradition.-Brewery:...

, Maeterlinck, Baudelaire, Verlaine
Verlaine is a municipality of Belgium. It lies in the country's Walloon Region and Province of Liege. On January 1, 2006 Verlaine had a total population of 3,507. The total area is 24.21 km² which gives a population density of 145 inhabitants per km². The municipality contains the villages...

, Albert Samain
Albert Samain
Albert Victor Samain was a French poet and writer of the Symbolist school.Born in Lille, his family were Flemish and had long lived in the town or its suburbs. At the time of the poet's birth, his father, Jean-Baptiste Samain, and his mother, Elisa-Henriette Mouquet, conducted a business in "wines...

 traces of the Parnassian, Symbolist and Decadent elements, all alien to Serbian traditional poetry. Dučić has shared the illusions of the western poet-princes in the cult of beauty.

Until 1914 Dučić was almost unknown as a poet, although he had already distinguished himself as a courageous political champion of the people of Herzegovina, as co-editor of a Mostar literary review, when he left in 1896 for Geneva to study law.

Dučić's first book of poems was published in Mostar in 1901, while he was still a law student in Geneva. Since that time his complete works in eight volumes have been published in Belgrade many times over. Before we turn to a study of his poetry, brief mention must be made of his poems in prose, Plave legende (Blue Legends), and the travel letters, Gradovi i himere (Cities and Chimeras), whose stylistic superioritry in Serbian prose was recognized by Jovan Skerlić
Jovan Skerlić
Jovan Skerlić was a Serbian writer and critic. He is regarded as one of the most influential Serbian literary critics of the early 20th century, after Bogdan Popović.- Biography :...

, the eminent Serbian literary critic, shortly before his untimely death in 1914. In the case of Dučić, who is a very sensitive artist with words and an essentially lyric poet, there is no fundamental difference between verse and prose. While his prose poems, Plave legende, for instance, are a logical transition from versification to the lilt of his rhythmic prose, the letters from Geneva, Rome, Madrid, Athens, etc., reveal the sensitive poet for whom a word is the symbol of an inner experience.

As to themes, Dučić is typical of the Moderns and is impressionistic in tone. His experiences are never overwhelming, This fact has already been observed by Skerlić who admits that Dučić's poems possess much elegance, rhythm and finesse, but that
this suppression of feelings, the transfiguration of his nature, the wish to be different from other poets, the fear of sincerity and directness, the search for symbols at all costs, the eternal seeking for effects which he achieves with combinations of words and sounds -- all these give one an impression of cultivated affectation, of strait-laced elegance, and frequently almost pass into mannerism.

One does not necessarily have to agree with Skerlić, however, this play with his feelings is one of the distinguishing marks of Dučić's poetic nature. Like all the devotees of beauty for beauty's sake, Dučić is also convinced of the great importance of having a measure for beauty. His poetry attempts above all to be disinterested, and consequently it never overcomes the poet.

Dučić has remained faithful to this criterion, and it is for this reason that his inner creative personality is still shrouded in mystery. This is exactly what Skerlić refers to when he speaks of the "suppression of feelings," a quality which has gioven the remarkable poetry of Dučić its sheen of marble and "the coolness of its shade." Like most symbolists, Dučić is imbued with a particular kind of liturgic expression; he does not come to us with the gestures of a convincing speaker but with the fine figure of a priest.

During Dučić's few final years in the United States were published a monograph, Grof Sava Vladislavic (1942), and Federalizam i Centralizam (1943; Federalism and Centralism), a book of political controversy in which he wanted to draw the West's attention to their continued errors of their ways.


  • Pjesme, knjiga prva, izdanje uredništva Zore u Mostaru, 1901.
  • Pesme, Srpska književna zadruga, Kolo XVII, knj. 113. Beograd, 1908.
  • Pesme u prozi, Plave legende, pisano u Ženevi 1905. Beograd, 1908.
  • Pesme (štampa „Davidović“), Beograd, 1908.
  • Pesme, izdanje S. B. Cvijanovića, Beograd, 1911.
  • Sabrana dela, Knj. I-V. Biblioteka savremenih jugoslovenskih pisaca, Beograd, Izdavačko preduzeće „Narodna prosveta“ (1929-1930). Knj. I Pesme sunca (1929)
  • Knj. II Pesme ljubavi i smrti (1929)
  • Knj. III Carski soneti (1930)
  • Knj. IV Plave legende (1930)
  • Knj. V Gradovi i himere (1930)
  • Knj. VI Blago cara Radovana: knjiga o sudbini, Beograd, izdanje piščevo, 1932.
  • Gradovi i himere, (Putnička pisma), Srpska književna zadruga, Kolo XLII, Knj. 294. Beograd, 1940.
  • Federalizam ili centralizam: Istina o “spornom pitanju“ u bivšoj Jugoslaviji, Centralni odbor Srpske narodne odbrane u Americi, Čikago, 1942.
  • Jugoslovenska ideologija: istina o “jugoslavizmu“, Centralni odbor Srpske narodne odbrane u Americi, Čikago, 1942.
  • Lirika, izdanje piščevo, Pitsburg, 1943.
  • Sabrana dela, Knj. X Jedan Srbin diplomat na dvoru Petra Velikog i Katarine I – Grof Sava Vladislavić – Raguzinski, Pitsburg, 1943.
  • Sabrana dela, Knj. VII-IX (Odabrane strane). Rukopise odabrali J. Đonović i P. Bubreško. Izdanje Srpske narodne odbrane u Americi, Čikago, 1951.
  • Sabrana dela, (uredili Meša Selimović i Živorad Stojković), Svjetlost, Sarajevo, 1969.
  • Sabrana dela, (uredili Meša Selimović i Živorad Stojković. Pregledao i dopunio Živorad Stojković), BIGZ, Svjetlost, Prosveta, Beograd-Sarajevo, 1989.

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