As editor and translator of The Horse Has Six Legs, Charles Simic notes in his introduction that his anthology "is not, properly speaking, a true anthology of Serbian poetry. Many important poets, both past and present, do not appear in it. The book is, rather, a selection from my thirty years of translating that poetry, and I translated only what I liked and kept only what I felt I did justice to." He goes on to explain his thoughts on translating and its influence on his own work, which he says was significant: "I was experiencing their [the Serbian poets'] way of looking at the world and making art."
The poems collected here are a testament to the rich literary heritage of Serbia. Begun in the twelfth century as a mostly oral tradition, Serbian poetry was first recorded in the nineteenth century. Serbian poetry continues to flourish; Simic writes that he "could have easily included another dozen younger poets whose work deserves recognition abroad."
Simic has limited his anthology to twentieth century poets and arranged the volume chronologically by year of birth. Many of the eighteen contributors, such as Nina Zivancevic and Novica Tadic, are still alive today.