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  • Writer's pictureEmily

Đaurko mila (186)

Đaurko mila, tuga me mori

Za oči tvoje, što suze rone.

Ustašca tvoja, prepuna baja –

Ah, dođi, dođi sred zagrljaja!

Znaš kako srce umilno tepa,

Ljubim te, ljubim, đaurko lepa…

Dear giaur (infidel), sadness fills me

When I see your eyes, which shed tears.

Your lips, full of magic –

Ah, come, come into my embrace!

You know how my heart tenderly beats,

I kiss you, I kiss you, beautiful giaur.

This song is another classic example of a sevdalinka. It seems, from the online attributions available, that Osman Đikić is the author of the text, but the author of the tune is unknown. This is our first text with an acknowledged lyricist. Đikić, a writer and politician who lived from 1879-1912, seems to be remembered as a complicated figure. Originally from Mostar, he identified as a Muslim Serb and is well remembered for being a supporter of Serbian nationalism, including the idea that the Muslims residing in Bosnia and Herzegovina were Serbs “by blood and language.”[1] There are articles in the contemporary Serbian press celebrating Đikić for this stance.

Regardless of the politicization of nationality and ethnicity in his life and work, it seems that many of Đikić’s songs and poems, as well as his folkloric work, had touchstones in the local context in which he was raised. In contrast to the modern Serbian press, it may be best to try to understand songs like “Đaurko mila” as arising from the author’s local context, rather than any national or ethnic one.

“Đaurko mila” has recognizable musical features of sevdah – it slowly, patiently glides up and down the typical sevdah scale, fluttering its way through on long notes embellished with trills. The particular shape of the lines, which usually start by hanging out around some of the low notes in the scale, then moving up, and then meandering down the scale, before resting on a note lower in the scale and ending on a long note (stretching one or a few syllables) low in the scale. As in most sevdah, the same tune is repeated for all the verses of the song, but of course, the embellishments can change across verses.

The fact that the song has been interpreted dozens of times indicates that it’s part of the modern canon of sevdalinka. In addition to Zaim Imamović’s version above, I’ve highlighted just a few others that I love.

Safet Isović (1982) has the most-viewed version on YouTube. He also has a nice live version.

Bozo Vrećo has this haunting a cappella version (2014) (the second most viewed version on YouTube is this very cool video (with poor quality audio) of him recording in 2012).

Mostar Sevdah Reunion (2017) does something really nice with a saz-like instrument, which gives it a soothing quality.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that Serbian pop-folk singer Saša Matić recorded this very “orientalized” arrangement (2010). It’s quite dramatic. It sounds like he has a full orchestra behind him. Somewhere around 1:10, it gets a drum beat that makes it sound like an Indiana Jones soundtrack song.

This version, interpreted by Muhamed Mujkanović, was on a Yugoslav TV program called Meraklije. It has some background on the song and on Osman Đikić (in Serbo-Croatian). According to the host of Meraklije, the “Đaurko mila” in the song was a real woman named Zorka Mihajlović Topalović, an actress from Šabac, who Đikić fell in love with after seeing her perform in Beograd. The two eventually married, and they were married until Đikić’s death at the age of 33 in Mostar.

Ibro Selmanović sings the song with the word “lijepa” (beautiful) instead of “mila.”

And Mustafa Jukić, Nestor Babrić, Zanin Berbić, Milan Babić, Hamid Ragipović, Emir Dedić, Mile Petrović, Divanhana… the list goes on and on.

You can find a collection of all the songs from Velika Narodna Lira that are available on Spotify on my playlist.

[1] Xavier Bougarel, “Bosnian Muslims and the Yugoslav Idea,” in Yugoslavism: Histories of a Failed Idea, 1918–1992, ed. Dejan Djokić (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003), 100–114.


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