(Literary Essentials: Great Poems of the World)

Jovan Dučić wrote poetry during his entire mature life. His first poems followed in the footsteps of the leading Serbian poet, Vojislav Ilič, at the end of the nineteenth century. Ilič employed a mixture of Romanticism, realism, and neoclassicism, all of which appealed to the young Dučić, especially in view of his patriotic fervor. During his study in Switzerland and prolonged stays in France, Dučić moved away from national regionalism as a result of his falling under the influence of the Parnassians and, later, the Symbolists. Despite some striking similarities to French poets, however, he developed his own style, thus successfully transplanting foreign influences onto a soil uniquely his own. In the latter part of his poetic career, he was free from any foreign influence. Ironically, his own influence on Serbian poets was minimal despite attempts by many to emulate him.

There are three more or less distinct periods in his poetic development. The first (1886-1908) was the period of naïve beginnings, fervent patriotism, love of nature, pronounced musicality, and Romantic sentimentalism. The strong French influence later in this period manifested itself through accentuated pessimism, melancholy, affectation, and a strict attention to form. This development, as literary historian Milan Kašanin sees it, had not only aesthetic but also historical significance, for the French predilection for intellectualism and rationalism replaced in Dučić’s...

(The entire section is 522 words.)