Eternal Bosnia in the Work of its Poet. The Message of Mak Dizdar

Kapidzic-Osmanagic, Hanifa
Revista Literatures Núm. 3 1999

Mak Dizdar (1917-1971) is one of the greatest poets that Bosnia ever produced. It is he who has best understood the essence of his country, its particularities created over ten centuries, and everything which distinguishes it from its neighbours. He sought this Bosnian "formula" in the medieval history and art of Bosnia.
Mediaeval Bosnia is an independent feudal state which reveals a certain singularity in relation to the surrounding states: in constituting the frontier which separates off Christianity after the great rupture of 1054 occurred in its territories. It is not until the end of the XIXth, and especially the XXth, century that medieval Bosnia attracted the attention of Bosnian historians and writers. Dizdar's work will be born from his encounter with the Bogomil necropolises and from the magnetism of these stones and the legends about them. His whole life he will be haunted by the Bosnian man who is at rest beneath the menhirs near the city of Herzegovina where he was born. The collection of poems The Stone Sleeper speaks of this Bosnian man lying beneath the medieval burial stone, of this "heretic" who had believed in the necessity of superior moral purity, in the predominance of the spiritual over the material. Dizdar offers us a portrait of a man and his faith, but also of a historic destiny, that of his country, the country of this man and his own. In the metaphorical poem-testament The Message which closes the collection in a tone of manly desolation, he concludes with a confirmation of failure and this is more forceful than if he had ended on a more optimistic note. Individual destiny substitutes for collective destiny. It is evident that the historian Dizdar has given way to the poet and to the demands of poetry.
The poetic work of Mak Dizdar shows Bosnians how to understand their country and their historic destiny. Dizdar makes us see the cross-roads identity and draws in depth the profile of Bosnian man, one identical to that of his "stone sleeper", despite the changes which have occurred. Medieval Bosnian man speaks through his twentieth century intermediary, the poet. The monologue of Mak Dizdar's lyrical subject demands, calls for and makes possible dialogue, polylogy, universal and redemptive communication.