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Remembering Antun Mihanović – Croatian national anthem author

Antun Mihanović

The author of Croatia’s national anthem passed away on this day 157 years ago. 

Antun Mihanović was born in Klanjec in northwestern Croatia, in the region of Hrvatsko Zagorje in 1796 and became a notable poet and lyricist. He is most famous for writing the Croatian national anthem. 

Mihanović wrote the original lyrics which were first published under the title “Horvatska domovina” (“Croatian homeland”) in 1835 in the cultural magazine Danica ilirska. 

In 1846, the lyrics were put to the music of Josip Runjanin. In the 1860s it started to be performed as the Croatian people’s ethnic anthem. 

The original text has 14 verses and has had a few minor adjustments and would become known as Lijepa naša (Our Beautiful) since those are the first two words of his poem. 

Mihanović studied law and worked as a military judge before working at the consulate around Europe. Mihanović also wrote a small but important book – A Word to the Homeland about the Benefits from Writing in Mother Tongue – published in Vienna n 1815. The ideas in this book became one of the foundations of the Illyrian Movement.  

Mihanović street in Zagreb (Photo: Diego Delso under CC)

He has a street in the centre of Zagreb named after him. 

He retired in 1858 and lived in Novi Dvori near Zagreb until his death on 14 November 1861. 

Below is Mihanović’s original text of the anthem.

Lěpa naša domovino,
Oj junačka zemljo mila,
Stare slave dědovino,
Da bi vazda čestna bila!
Mila, kano si nam slavna,
Mila si nam ti jedina,
Mila, kuda si nam ravna,
Mila, kuda si planina!
Vedro nebo, vedro čelo,
Blaga persa, blage noći,
Toplo lěto, toplo dělo,
Bistre vode, bistre oči:
Vele gore, veli ljudi,
Rujna lica, rujna vina,
Silni gromi, silni udi; —
To je naša domovina!
Ženju serpi, mašu kose,
Děd se žuri, snope broji,
Škriplju vozi, brašno nose,
Snaša preduć málo doji:
Pase marha, rog se čuje,
Oj, oj zvenči, oj, u tmine,
K ognju star i mlad šetuje; —
Evo t’ naške domovine!
Luč iz mraka dalko sija,
Po veseloj livadici,
Pěsme glasno brěg odbija,
Ljubni poje k tamburici:
Kolo vode, živo kolo,
I na berdu, i v dolini,
Plešu mladji sve okolo; —
Mi smo, pobre, v domovini!
Magla, što li, Unu skriva?
Ni l’ to našiu jauk turobni?
Tko li moleć smert naziva?
Il’ slobodni, il’ su robni?
»Rat je, bratjo, rat junaci,
Pušku hvataj, sablju paši,
Sedlaj konjče, hajd pešjaci,
Slava budi, gdi su naši!«
Buči bura, magla projde, —
Puca zora, tmina běži, —
Tuga mine, radost dojde, —
Zdravo slobost, — dušman leži!
Veseli se, tužna mati,
Padoše ti verli sini,
Ko junaci, ko Horvati,
Ljaše kervcu domovini!
Teci, Sava hitra, teci
Nit’ ti Dunaj silu gubi,
Kud li šumiš, světu reci:
Da svog’ doma Horvat ljubi,
Dok mu njive sunce grije,
Dok mu hrastje bura vije,
Dok mu mertve grob sakrije,
Dok mu živo serdce bije!
Our beautiful homeland,
O so fearless and gracious,
Our father’s ancient glory,
May you be happy forever.
Beloved, how glorious you are,
You are beloved, our only one,
Beloved, wherever you are plain,
Beloved, wherever you are mountain!
Clear sky, clear forehead,
Gentle people, mild nights,
Hot summer, hard work,
Clear waters, clear eyes:
Great mountains, great people,
Red faces, red vines,
Mighty thunders, mighty limbs; –
This is our homeland!
Sickles are reaping, scythes sweeping,
Old man is busy, counting sheaves,
Carriages are creaking, carrying flour ,
Bride knits and breastfeeds a child;
Cattle are grazing, horn is heard,
Oj, oj it rings, oj into darkness,
To the fire, youth and elders are going;-
Here’s our homeland!
Light in the dark shines far,
All over cheerful meadow,
Songs are loudly echoed by hills,
Lovers are singing to tamburica:
They dance the kolo, lively kolo,
On the hill, and in the valley,
Youth is dancing all around;-
We are, my friend, in homeland!
Is it the fog what hides the Una?
Isn’t that our peoples awful screams?
Who prays for death?
The freeborn, or the slaves?
“It is war, brothers, war, heroes,
Grab your rifle, take a saber,
Saddle your horses, let’s go infantrymen,
There be glory, where ours are!”
Gales roar, fog is lifting,-
Dawn breaks, darkness runs,-
Sorrow fades, joy arrives,-
Hello freedom, – enemy lays!
Be joyful, sad mother,
Your brave sons have fallen,
Like heroes, like Croats,
Shedding blood for homeland!
Flow, fast Sava, flow,
Nor you Danube, lose your power,
Wherever you’re murmuring, tell the world:
That a Croat loves his home,
Whilst the sun warms his fields,
Whilst winds lash his oak trees,
Whilst graves cover his fallen,
Whilst his living heart is beating.

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