We bade him farewell at a memorial meeting of the City Council in the Great Meeting Hall at City Hall on Monday 24 October 2011.
Tone Pavček was an indispensible co-creator of contemporary Ljubljana in the social and cultural fields and was awarded honorary citizenship of the city in 2007.
In the words of Mayor of Ljubljana Zoran Janković in his speech to the memorial meeting on the death of Tone Pavček:
“Many simple words are necessary, such as bread, love, goodness, so we are not blind in the darkness straying from the right path at a crossroads” is a famous quote from our honorary citizen, poet, translator and editor, Tone Pavček. The voice of our great Tone Pavček has gone silent just at a time when we are going to miss even more deeply his enthusiastic, catchy and inspirational poetic language that is able to inspire the heart. Although he is no longer with us, Tone Pavček will live on in his poems, in which he celebrated his love of life and all things beautiful.
Four years ago, alongside writer Kristina Brenk and the first President of independent Slovenia Milan Kučan, he was elected to the ranks of the most acclaimed citizens of the Slovenian capital; he accepted his honour with the words: “All that is good and beautiful , all beatitudes of the spirit and Egyptian pots of gold to you, Ljubljana, beloved, our city! And even if Ljubljana is not our home town, we live here in this city that we would only leave briefly on the trail of our being and existence.
We have come this way from the diverse regions of our homeland: from the Prekmurian plain, from hidden corners of Notranska, from graceful Dolenjska. Mrs Kristina Brenk and I came to Ljubljana as early as when it was still the capital of the Drava Province, we survived its occupation by foreign troops, surrounded by barbed wire to subjugate it, although due to two magical letters, OF (Osvobodilna fronta, the Liberation Front) they could not do so.
Ljubljana emerged triumphant, so that today together with the Allies we are able to celebrate Victory Day. Today Ljubljana is the capital of independent Slovenia, an equal member of the EU. The difference is huge. For the whole period. For a great epoch. For all eternity. But in this eternity there are thousands and hundreds of thousands of little people and things without whom or which this would not have been able to become something truly great”.
Tone Pavček’s emphatic voice encouraged and motivated us when twenty years ago in Congress Square we entered the new state of Slovenia for which we had dreamed that we would live in prosperity and tolerant coexistence through the labour of our own hands.
In the midst of the hardships that our country has found itself in recent years, he inspired us with his prophetic pronouncement delivered four years ago “It’s time for a new start, fresh impetus, for a new spring. We will probably not be able to contribute much more to this new growth. You, who have strength in your fists and youth in your hearts, as Cankar would have said, you see. It’s up to you. Ljubljana is waiting for you”.
Surrounded by the affection of the honorary citizen Tone Pavček, we have endeavoured in the last five years to do our best for Ljubljana, whatever has been in our power to drive it to becoming a cosmopolitan European capital. To be a capital that is the heart of the Slovenian state and with Ljubljana at the forefront we would like to be among the 15 best countries in the world.
If we are indebted to anyone, writers, and personalities of Slovenian arts, science and culture, among them in the Slovene heart is the favourite Tone Pavček, patriot, “regions poetic and notable, regions of proximity, warmth and the Slovene dual”. A man who also in middle age cried “I love you, life!”
We thank respected and esteemed honorary citizen, friend, poet, academician Tone Pavček, for all his thoughts and words, gathered in numerous collections.
Thank you for the countless visits to Slovenian libraries and schools, so that children from every corner of Slovenia, especially on his recent 80th birthday, wrote to express their gratitude in words of heartfelt admiration and affection.
Thank you for the extensive opus of translations that opened a window for us into the world of Slavic poetry. Thank you for your principled stance in leading positions in Slovenian television, the Slovenian Youth Theatre, the Slovene Writers’ Association and all your public activities.
Thank you for countless illuminated images of great contemporaries, which teach us mutual love and respect. Thank you for all four of your books of deep reflection on life – the Time of the soul, the Time of the Body, of which the last was brilliant as a book for everybody in Ljubljana – World Book Capital, when we were warned with a light-hearted play on words that we would die if we didn’t read.
And a special thank you for the last year, when in front of our eyes in severe pain the writer’s words were written out of the life recognition: “The abyss of death is not boundless, life builds a footbridge across it”.
Life, which creates combustion only during the time of the body, while in the time of the soul the flames of eternity. And the poetic soul of Tone Pavček fires as our common inspiration that Slovenia, through his example of creativity, mutual understanding and unified co-existence bring about for the whole world that bright vision in the character of which it was born.
Thank you and a glorious memorial of the honorary citizen, academician Tone Pavček, poet and one of the noblest poetic father’s of Slovenia.”