Dragutin Tadijanoviċ, one of Croatia’s most recognized and popular poets, lived for more than a century in Croatia and France. He published more than 500 poems in 20 collections which have been translated into more than 20 languages. In 1922, his first poem was published — fifteen years later he had earned degrees in philosophy and literature from the University of Zagreb. “Tadija’s” influence runs from generations of school children who memorized his poems at school to the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU), whose literary institute he directed from 1943-73. His “Ballad of the Slaughtered Sheep” (Balada o zaklanim ovcama), written in the 1930s, is one of the most powerful works of Croatian literature.
Two years after his death and at the moment Croatia joined the European Union, Dominis Publishing created a bilingual collection of 100 of his poems, a poignant virtual chronology of personal and political events from 1920 to 1992. The scenes shift from the Slavonian village of his birth to his rise as an academic and cultural “star” of the 20th century in Zagreb and throughout Europe. The pleasing simplicity of his words brings alive the rustic, old-fashioned family life in which his “sister delivers milk on foot in the winter snow” as well as family rules about when one can “enter the room with the carpet.” This volume bears witness to one poet’s experience in two turbulent countries during 72 unsettled years. Always remaining close to his native village and its cultural heritage, the creator of these modern poems was honoured during his lifetime and deserves better international recognition.