Vojislav Ilić

Vojislav Ilić (Serbian Cyrillic: Војислав Илић) (14 April 1860, Belgrade – 21 January 1894, Belgrade) was a Serbian poet of finely chiselled verse, son of the Romanticist playwright and poet Jovan Ilić.

Vojislav failed to complete his college education and was forced to take various clerical positions of minor importance. Living for the most part in penury, he wrote poetry extensively and soon became the leading Serbian poet in the last decades of the nineteenth century. As so many Serbian artists of that era, he died young, of consumption, in 1894.

His poetry exemplifies a classic example of modern Serbian language and features the standard Decadent motifs of the epoch: cruel nature (e.g. cold wind blowing across empty fields), and times of Elagabalus.

Vojislav Ilic
Vojislav Ilić - Serbian poet


Vojislav J. Ilić, Serbian poet, was born in Belgrade on 14 April 1860, the youngest son of poet and politician Jovan Ilić. On both sides of the family was of the highest provincial middle class, but was not noble; his father was fairly wealthy after retiring from the Privy Council in 1882, and living quietly as the patriarch of a literary dynasty which he helped create. Jovan Ilić, together with politicians-historians Jevrem Grujić and Milovan Janković, played a critical role in the St. Andrew Day National Assembly in 1858 when the call for a parliamentary check on Alexander Karađorđević's monastic power for the first time gained popular support. Vojislav was educated at various grade schools and high schools and at the end of his school days he enrolled in the Faculty of Philosophy at Belgrade's Grande école (Velika Škola), but did not graduate. The hub of literary activity was his home, where he befriended Jovan Jovanović Zmaj and Đura Jakšić and even married one of Jakšić's daughters. In certain aspects Vojislav does belong somewhat to all the four main periods of European literary style that he passed through in a period of less than 15 years, a unique phenomenon, but his great merit as a poet is that he emancipated himself from the affectations and puerilities of his masters. Literary critic Jovan Skerlić said one of the most striking aspects of Vojislav's activity is the attention he drew to the form and technique of poetic creation: Vojislav Ilić ima veliko čisto pesnički talenat, više čiste umetnosti, no i jedan srpski pesnik pre njega.

In 1885 he joined the Serbian Army as a volunteer and accompanied his detachment to Bulgaria but did not encounter the enemy. The short-lived Serbo-Bulgarian War gave Ilić another direction than the military. From 1887 until 1892 he was an editor at the Government Printing Press. In 1892 he taught at a Serbian grammar school in Turnu Severin, in Romania. That same year he was appointed press secretary at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and afterwards vice-consul in Priština, then under Turkish rule. He died in Belgrade on 21 January 1894.

Literary work

Vojislav Ilic bust
Bust of Vojislav Ilić in Kalemegdan, Belgrade

His first publication was a book simply entitled Pesme (Poems) which appeared in Belgrade in 1887 and this was followed at other intervals by other volumes of more verse. As a poet he soon made a reputation as one of the ablest and most versatile writers of his day. His influence was infectious, young aspiring poets would gather around him and in that period the term Vojislavism became a coined word in Serbian literature. In the 1890s a true Vojislavism reigned among young Serbian poets; no wonder he was proclaimed "the greatest Serbian poet" by Skerlić and other critics. Of the best known Serbian poets who looked up to him during that period were Milorad Mitrović, Mileta Jakšić, Aleksa Šantić, Danica Marković, and for a short while even Jovan Dučić, who soon went on to abandon Vojislavism for a new literary wave that Dučić and Milan Rakić would ultimately espouse, influenced by the French poets. This independence Dučić and Rakić owed in part perhaps to their studies and frequent travels abroad, both were in the diplomatic service. It was Jovan Dučić who put it best in perspective, Even if Vojislav did not succeed in becoming our greatest poet, he is certainly our most beautiful poet. But nothing diminishes Vojislav J. Ilić's standing in Serbian literature which remains on a firm foundation more than a century later.

Undoubtedly Vojislav J. Ilić achieved much for a poet who died young—he had not reached 34 years of age. He was, indeed, the poet of his period. Jovan Skerlić, the great Serbian literary critic, wrote: What Lukijan Mušicki meant to Serbian literature in the 1830s, Sima Milutinović Sarajlija in the 1840s, Djura Jakšić and Jovan Jovanović Zmaj in the 1860s, so too, did Vojislav J. Ilić make his imprint in the 1890s. He brought Romanticism to its conclusion and ushered in a new direction – Vojislavism.

Compared to Pushkin

Critics say he was an ardent follower of Pushkin: "As far as Vojislav Ilić is concerned Pushkin's influence is beyond question: everything in Ilić's verses, their rhythm and power of expression remind one of Pushkin." The critic Jovan Skerlić reproached him for that, but Ilić himself never made a secret of it and openly avowed in one of his poems that he was a pupil of Vasily Zhukovsky and Pushkin.

Vojislav J. Ilić was also an ardent follower of Vuk Karadžić's reforms. He displays richness of fancy and aptness of language, and his work has even stood the test of time. Various editions of his Collected Works have been published after his death, one in 1907 and 1909, in two volumes.

Vojislav has been credited for having influenced many poets that came after him, thereby paving the way for higher achievements in Serbian poetry in the first two decades of the twentieth century.


He is included in The 100 most prominent Serbs.


  • Translated and adapted from Jovan Skerlić, Istorja Nove Srpske Književnosti/ History of New Serbian Literature (Belgrade, 1914, 1921), pages 406-417.
  • Translated and adapted from Serbian Wikipedia: Војислав Илић
Aleksa Šantić

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Aleksije Vezilić

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Anthology of Modern Serbian Lyric

Anthology of Modern Serbian Lyric (Serbo-Croatian: Antologija novije srpske lirike/Антологија новије српске лирике) is an anthology published in 1911 by Matica hrvatska in Zagreb, Austria-Hungary (modern day Croatia). The foreword for this book was written by Bogdan Popović. It was the first attempt to create a literary canon of the most significant poems down the ages. The book contains poems by authors including Jovan Jovanović Zmaj, Laza Kostić, Petar I Petrović-Njegoš, Vojislav Ilić, Jovan Grčić Milenko, Aleksa Šantić, Jovan Dučić, Milan Rakić, Sima Pandurović and Veljko Petrović. The book has undergone several editions, including translations into the Slovene language in 1965. In 2011, Srpska književna zadruga, a member of the Board for Standardization of the Serbian Language, published the 100th anniversary edition.

Dimitar of Kratovo

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Dragoslav Mihailović

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Ilić is a surname derived from the South Slavic masculine given name Ilija (itself derived from biblical Elijah). Ilić is the seventh most frequent surname in Serbia. Notable people with the surname include:

Aleksandar Ilić (disambiguation), several people

Branko Ilić (born 1983), Slovenian footballer

Brana Ilić (born 1985), Serbian footballer

Dan Ilic (born 1981), Australian TV presenter, comedian, film maker

Danilo Ilić (1891–1915), co-conspirator in the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria

Dejan Ilic (born 1957), Serbian scientist

Dejan Ilić (born 1976), Serbian footballer

Ivan Ilić (disambiguation), several people

Jovan Ilić (1824–1901), Serbian poet, father of Vojislav Ilić

Marko Ilić (footballer, born 1985), Serbian football midfielder

Marko Ilić (footballer, born 1998), Serbian football goalkeeper

Milica Ilić (born 1981), Australian classical guitarist

Milovan Ilić Minimaks (1938–2005), Serbian radio and TV journalist

Mirko Ilić (born 1956), Yugoslavian graphic designer based in New York

Mile Ilić (born 1984), Serbian basketball player

Miroslav Ilić (born 1950), Serbian singer-songwriter

Radiša Ilić (born 1977), Serbian football goalkeeper

Saša Ilić (disambiguation), several people

Stefan Ilić (born 1995), Serbian footballer

Tatjana Ilić (born 1966), Serbian artist

Teodor Ilić Češljar (1746–1793), Serbian painter

Vanja Ilić (swimmer) (born 1927), Yugoslavian Olympic swimmer

Velimir Ilić (born 1951), Serbian politician

Vladimir Ilić (born 1982), Montenegrin footballer

Vojislav Ilić (1862–1894), Serbian poet, son of Jovan Ilić

Jovan Dučić

Jovan Dučić (Serbian Cyrillic: Јован Дучић, pronounced [jǒʋan dûtʃitɕ]; 17 February 1871 – 7 April 1943) was a Bosnian Serb poet, writer and diplomat.

Jovan Ilić

Jovan "Jova" Ilić (Belgrade, 15 August 1824-Belgrade, 12 March 1901) was a Serbian poet and politician.

Jovan Skerlić

Jovan Skerlić (Serbian Cyrillic: Јован Скерлић, Serbian pronunciation: [jɔ̌ʋan skɛ̂ːrlitɕ]; 20 August 1877 – 15 May 1914) was a Serbian writer and critic. He is regarded as one of the most influential Serbian literary critics of the early 20th century, after Bogdan Popović, his professor and early mentor.

Ludovico Pasquali

Ludovico Pasquali (Kotor, c.1500–Kotor, 1551) was an Italian author, from Cattaro in the Albania Veneta (today Kotor, Montenegro). In Serbian his name is Ljudevit Pasković.

Mileta Jakšić

Mileta Jakšić (Srpska Crnja, Serbia, 29 March 1863 – Belgrade, Serbia, 8 November 1935) was a Serbian poet. He had a great love of nature which is reflected in all his works.

Milorad Mitrović (poet)

Milorad J. Mitrović (20 February 1867 – 15 May 1907) was a Serbian lyrical poet.

Ostoja Mijailović

Ostoja Mijailović (Serbian Cyrillic: Остоја Мијаиловић; born 25 May 1979) is a Serbian entrepreneur, sports administrator, and politician. He has served in the National Assembly of Serbia since 2016 as a member of the Serbian Progressive Party.

Stevan M. Luković

Stevan M. Luković (Belgrade, 1877 — Belgrade, 1902) was a Serbian lyric poet.

Serbian literature had suffered injury in many ways, not only during the war itself but also in the years preceding the Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913 and the Great War. Stevan M. Luković was among the many, unfortunate writers and poets to have died as their careers began to peak only to fall victims of consumption.

Stevan M. Luković was born in Belgrade in 1877 and died in 1902 in the same city. His friends immediately collected

all his poems and published them in 1903 in a volume entitled "Pesme Stevana M. Lukovića" (Poems of Stevan M. Luković) to the delight of readers. Luković was a master of lyric poetry, in which he achieved a perfect balance of feeling and expression, of form and content. Jovan Skerlić, a close friend of Luković, wrote, "His eligaic and lyrical style is very musical and in some poems have reached a high musical effect." Lukovic's lyrics have been extensively set to music by the great masters of the Serbian art-song. Luković, Velimir Rajić, Vojislav Ilić and Danica Marković shared the same melancholy tone in their poetry, enough for Skerlić to give them the moniker -- "the melancholic quartet".

The poetry of Luković is that of a young man; his poetry was written before he was twenty-five, and though he

died at that age, he had, poetically, achieved what could be expected of a man whose life was cut short. The result

is a poetry of enthusiasm; he is rarely half-hearted; when he is angry, he is furious, when he is pleased, joyful, and when he

is unhappy, he is thoroughly dejected. We know all this because Luković is the most personal, the most expansive of the

poets, and in his poetry his subject is always, directly, himself, and he is quite frank about it.

Luković read the French contemporary poets and was strongly influenced by the Symbolists such as Alfred de Musset and Paul Verlaine; he made some translations from French; he was soon introduced to the circle gathered in the house of Jovan Ilić, and with these friends began to make a close study of Parnassians and especially impressed by the correctness of their form.

Vasa Živković

Vasilije "Vasa" Živković (1819–1891) was a Serbian poet and Orthodox priest. He is highly regarded in Serbian culture for his role in collecting verses from oral traditions of his people. His literary opus sustained only half of his poems to be printed since he was prone to self-criticism. His contemporaries were poets Jovan Ilić, father of Vojislav Ilić, Stevan Vladislav Kačanski, and many others.


Vojislav (Serbian: Војислав; pronounced [ʋǒjislaʋ]) is a Serbian masculine given name, a Slavic dithematic name (of two lexemes), derived from the Slavic words voj ("war, warrior"), and slava ("glory, fame"), which both are very common in Slavic names. Its feminine form is Vojislava. It may refer to:

Stefan Vojislav (fl. 1034–43), Serbian ruler

Vojislav Brajović (b. 1949), Serbian actor

Vojislav Đonović (1921–2008), Serbian jazz guitarist

Vojislav Ilić (1860–1894), Serbian poet

Vojislav Jovanović Marambo, Serbian university professor and diplomat

Vojislav V. Jovanović, Serbian writer

Vojislav Koštunica (b. 1944), Serbian politician

Vojislav Melić (1940–2006), Yugoslav footballer

Vojislav Mihailović (born 1951), Serbian politician

Vojislav Nikčević (1935–2007), Montenegrin linguist

Vojislav Šešelj (b. 1954), Serbian politician

Vojislav Vranjković (b. 1983), Serbian footballer

Vojislav Vukčević (b. 1938), retired Serbian politician

Zorka Todosić

Zorka Todosić (1 April 1864 – 28 December 1936, in Cyrillic Зорка Тодосић) was a Serbian stage actress and operetta singer, associated with the National Theatre in Belgrade.

Đura Jakšić

Georgije "Đura" Jakšić (Serbian Cyrillic: Георгије "Ђура" Јакшић, 27 July 1832 – 16 November 1878) was a Serbian poet, painter, writer, dramatist, bohemian and patriot.

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