November 18th, 2016

Zmaj’s poem “The Frog is reading newspapers”. New children’s stamps released by Post of Serbia is glad to introduce to our readers’ attention new children’s stamps by Post of Serbia issued in honor of famous lyrist of Serbian romanticism, as well as the founder of poetry for children within Serbian poetry, Jovan Jovanović Zmaj.

The stamp bears the illustration of Zmaj’s poem “The Frog is reading newspapers”. Let’s appreciate the great design of this philatelic item together.

Jovan Jovanović Zmaj (1833 – 1904) was a lyrist of Serbian romanticism, as well as the founder of poetry for children within Serbian poetry. Spontaneously, gently and tenderly, humorously but didactically, Zmaj teaches children, through his poetry, about nature, things, situations in life – good and bad, in an imperceptible and unintrusive way.

The scope of his lyrics is the entire childhood, from cradle to boyhood, with everything that belongs to the world of children – plays and toys, animals, relationship with grown-ups. In the rich and diverse gallery of his poetic characters there are little Jova, mama’s baby, lazy Gaša, Juca and Steva, as well as a frog, stork, ducklings... Even when they do not have a specific ethical lesson, the poems of Zmaj are joyful, cheerful and creative, just like children’s play.

Zmaj published the first of his poems for children, Gaša, in 1858. Since then, up until his death, he wrote more than 450 poems for children, prompted not only by love towards them, but also by his personal tragedy that befell him – the deaths of his most beloved ones – his wife Ruža and his children, to whom he dedicated his collections of lyrical poems Đulići (Little Rosebuds) and Đulići uveoci (Faded Little Rosebuds).

Zmaj also wrote satirical and political poems, and although a physician by profession, he dedicated all his life to editing and publication of literary, political and children’s magazines. He edited a literary journal Javor, satirical newspapers Žiža, Starmali and Komarac (Mosquito), and in 1880, he started and edited until his death, a famous children’s newspaper Neven (Marigold). He also dealt with translations and successfully translated poems of Šandor Petefi, Goethe and Heine.

Verses of the most famous Zmaj’s poems for children such as Mali konjanik (Little Rider), Pačija škola (Ducklings’ School), Taši taši (Clap Clap), Zimska pesma (Winter Poem), Žaba čita novine (A Frog is Reading a Newspaper)... are even today a mandatory and favourite literature among parents and children as well.

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