Antun Branko Šimić

18 Nov 1898
2 May 1925
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Antun Branko Šimić (18 November 1898 – 2 May 1925) was a Herzegovinian Croat expressionist poet.

He was born in Drinovci near Grude on 18 November 1898, in the family of Vida and Martin Šimić. He attended primary school in his native village, and then the first three forms of the Franciscan classical grammar school in Široki Brijeg.

He decided to change school in the fourth form and went to Mostar and afterwards to Vinkovci.

His unruly spirit made him change his surroundings again and so he continued his education in Zagreb, in the upper town grammar school.

In 1917, he started the journal for art and culture, Vijavica (Whirlwind), which forced him to leave school. This is when he lost his parents’ support and it also meant a hard life overpowered by many illnesses.

After four issues of Vijavica, taking the example of German journal Der Sturm, he also launched another journal, Juriš (Attack), which likewise had a short life of three issues only.

He went on writing poems, literary and art critiques and also translating. He often had to live in straitened circumstances which caused many illnesses, so he went back to Drinovci and made up with his father.

When he returned to Zagreb he launched his third journal, Književnik (Writer). At the Faculty of Philosophy he met Tatjana Marinić to whom he dedicated his one and only collection, Preobraženja (Metamorphoses) in 1920. He contracted tuberculosis and died on 2 May 1925 in a hospital in Zagreb.

Šimić did not write a large literary opus during his lifetime. However, some of his poems could be called anthological, like Pjesnici (Poets), Veče i ja (The Evening and I), Opomena (Warning), Ručak siromaha (The Poor Man’s Dinner), Žene pred uredima (Women in Front of Offices), Smrt i ja (Death and I), Pjesma jednom brijegu (Poem to a Mountain), Smrt (Death), and some others.

After writing under the influence of Matoš, Kranjčević, Vidrić and Domjanić, he bore down on the traditionalists and started favouring an unrestrained expression and expressionist spirit. In his collection Preobraženja (Metamorphoses), using a free verse, he wrote tersely, rhythmically, gnomically and logically.

He would also sometimes recourse to the decasyllabic line and the folk lament. His topics are the man, pain, poverty, stars, Herzegovina, the poor, life and death (“death is something quite human”).

When he turns to the man he warns him: Be careful not to go, small as thou are, under the stars, man, (from the poem Warning). When he writes about the mystery and perseverance, he says: We watch each other silently. Mountain and man. I’ll never know where our different meanings meet- (Poem to a mountain).

The image of A.B. Šimić can be seen on 20 km banknote of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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