Famous Croatian quotes: Part 1 (Life)

Sunset behind the Croatian wheat fields
Sunset behind the Croatian wheat fields

”Without goals and hope, we are just measurers of time,” Ranko Marinković, a Croatian writer and academic, once said.

This is the first edition of our series on famous Croatian quotes, where we will cover some of the wisest thoughts pronounced by Croatian writers, poets, politicians, and historians. While reading the following selection related to life wisdom, reevaluate your own values and philosophy – and remember to always move forward, no matter what.

View part 2 on famous Croatian quotes about love here.

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The quotes are these…

Famous Croatian quotes: Part 1 (Life)

#1 Antun Branko Šimić

Antun Branko Šimić (1898.-1925.) was a Croatian poet, essayist, critic, and translator.

Quote: Čovječe, pazi da ne ideš malen ispod zvijezda.
Translation: Man, be sure not to walk small under the stars.

#2 Antun Gustav Matoš

Antun Gustav Matoš (1873.-1914.) was a Croatian poet, novelist, columnist, essayist, and travel writer.

Quote: Postati čovjek je ljepše nego postati kralj.
Translation: Becoming a man is more beautiful than becoming a king.

#3 Ivan Aralica

Ivan Aralica (1930.-) is a Croatian writer and academic.

Quote: Tko se neuspjeha boji, nikad neće biti uspješan.
Translation: The one who fears failure will never be successful.

Quote: Blago onima koji su obavili svoju dužnost i zadržali osjećaje da su im ruke čiste.
Translation: Blessed are the ones who have done their duty and kept the feeling that their hands are clean.

#4 Ivan Gundulić

Ivan Gundulić (1589.-1638.) was a Croatian baroque poet, epic, and lyricist.

Quote: Sami smo uzrok mi svega zla našega. Nisu nam sve toliko drugi krivi koliko mi sami.
Translation: We ourselves are the cause of all our evil. Others are not as much to blame as we should blame ourselves.

#5 Ivan Kukuljević Sakcinski

Ivan Kukuljević Sakcinski (1816.-1889.) was a Croatian historian, writer, and politician.

Quote: Tko svoj može biti, tuđ neka ne bude.
Translation: The one who can be their own, let it not be someone’s else.

#6 Ivan Mažuranić

Ivan Mažuranić (1814.-1890.) was a Croatian poet, linguist, translator, and politician.

Quote: A velik je tko se malen rodi, ali kad padne, golem grob mu treba.
Translation: And the great one is the one who is born small, but when he falls, he needs a huge grave.

#7 Ivo Andrić

Ivo Andrić (1892.-1975.) was a Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian poet, writer, and diplomat.

Quote: Poslije svake pobjede nastaju krize.
Translation: Crises arise after every victory.

Quote: Sve Drine ovoga svijeta su krive. Mi ih nećemo stići ispraviti. Mi ih nikada ne smijemo prestati ispravljati.
Translation: All the Drina [name of the Balkan river] of this world are wrong. We will not have time to correct them. We must never stop correcting them.

#8 Miroslav Krleža

Miroslav Krleža (1893.-1981.) was a Croatian writer and encyclopedist.

Quote: Čovjek treba da je svjestan da je potpuno sam u ovoj zvjezdanoj prašini i da nad njim nema nikoga.
Translation: One must be aware that he is completely alone in this stardust and that there is no one above him.

Quote: Vrijeme teče oko nas i kroz nas, teče s nama usporedno a ipak mi otječemo u njemu.
Translation: Time flows around us and through us, it flows in parallel with us and yet we flow in it.

Quote: Sloboda je cilj, apstrakcija koja vrijedi samo dok se akcija upravlja spram nje. Kad bismo je se domogli, ubila bi nas dosada.
Translation: Freedom is a goal, an abstraction that is valid only as long as the action is directed towards it. If we got it, boredom would kill us.

Quote: Negacija može biti oblik prihvaćanja svijeta.
Translation: Negation can be a form of accepting the world.

#9 Nikola Šop

Nikola Šop (1904.-1982.) was a Croatian poet.

Quote: Kako je lijepo i mudro zaspati, a ipak ostati budan. Odmarati se i razmišljati.
Translation: How nice and wise is to fall asleep, but still stay awake. Rest and think.

Quote: Kad čovjeku sve polazi za rukom, vrijeme mu dva put brže prolazi.
Translation: When a man succeeds, time passes twice as fast.

Quote: Ovo je groblje živih, ovo je užasno, jer je najgore živjeti, a već biti mrtav.
Translation: This is the graveyard of the living, this is horrible because it is the worst to live and already be dead.

#10 Ranko Marinković

Ranko Marinković (1913.-2001.) was a Croatian writer and academic.

Quote: Bez cilja i nada mi smo samo mjerači vremena.
Translation: Without goals and hope, we are just measurers of time.

#11 Slavko Mihalić

Slavko Mihalić (1928.-2007.) was a Croatian poet and academic.

Quote: Vrijeme nas uništava iluzijom da jesmo.
Translation: Time destroys us with an illusion that we are.

#12 Slavenka Drakulić

Slavenka Drakulić (1949.) is a Croatian writer and journalist.

Quote: Nije lako prepustiti se smrti, čak ni kad je priželjkuješ.
Translation: It is not easy to give in to death, even when you desire it.

#13 Tin Ujević

Tin Ujević (1891.-1955.) was a Croatian poet.

Quote: Uzaludno nebo za odgovor molim, uplašen sobom svoje suze gutam, tajanstveno stvari i života zebe, ne poznam ništa, a najmanje sebe.
Translation: In vain I beg the sky for an answer, I swallow my tears frightened with myself, mysterious things and life finches, I know nothing, and myself at least.

View part 2 of our series on famous Croatian quotes about love here.


Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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