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Crisis in Yugoslavia

19th Century Bosnian Poem Represents Lost Originals

April 24, 1999

When Serbian bombs flattened Sarajevo's largest library in 1992, the original records of 150 years of Serb intellectual, social and political life in Bosnia were also destroyed. An example is this poem, "Ostajte Ovdje [Remain Here]," by Aleksa Santic, a Bosnian Serb, who in 1891 wrote this ode for his compatriots who fled to Turkey following the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina:

Remain here! . . . The sun of foreign skies

Will not warm you as warmly as our own:

The mouthfuls of bread are bitter over there

Where none is your own, where there are no brothers.

Who will find a mother better than one's own?

Your mother is this very land;

Look across the limestone crags and fields.

Everywhere are the graves of your ancestors.

They were the giants of this land,

Radiant examples, who defended her;

You, too, must remain in this land . . .

Here your brothers grasp your hand--

Only your wormwood blossoms in foreign lands;

Everything, everything ties you to these crags . . .

Remain here!

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