Translated by Anica Savić Rebac (1892–1953).
Petar II Petrović Njegoš (1813–1851) was born in the village of Njeguši, at the foot of the Lovćen mountain, near the Bay of Kotor and the Adriatic Sea. He was born into the family which had given to Montenegro princes-bishops for more than a hundred years. After the death of his uncle, metropolitan Petar I in 1830, Njegoš was proclaimed ruler and bishop of Montenegro, under the name of Petar II.
Njegoš’s religious poetic thought received its highest artistic shape in The Ray of the Microcosm (Luča mikrokozma, 1845). As a romantic, cosmic-religious epic, written in the decasyllabic meter of Serbian folk poetry, The Ray of the Microcosm ranks with Dante’s Divine Comedy and Milton’s Paradise Lost. The epic contains three main thematic wholes – the first is the Dedication, the second consists of the two first cantos which describe the cosmic flight of man’s thought, while the third whole comprises the remaining four cantos which describe Satan’s mutiny and man’s fall.
The Ray of the Microcosm is unique by the poet’s meditative effort to fathom the secret of the human being, and by its imaginative strength which allowed Njegoš to imbue even abstract notions with authentic poetic beauty and salience. Owing to the depth of philosophical thought, the strength and beauty of artistic inspiration, and the succinct, pure poetic expression, The Ray of the Microcosm ranks among the highest literary achievements of the Serbian language.