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Slovenia Weekly

The greatest

09.02.2018

France Prešeren's Zdravljica (A Toast) at Čopova Street in Ljubljana. Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA
In recent days we Slovenians have once again been celebrating our greatest poet. The Slovenian Cultural Holiday on 8 February marked exactly 169 years since the death of France Prešeren.

Prešeren is today regarded as one of Slovenia's greatest poets and one of its greatest symbols. We use the seventh verse of his poem A Toast as our national anthem. Streets and squares are named after him, statues are erected in his honour, the old 1,000 Slovenian tolar banknote bore his image and today we can even see him on the Slovenian two-euro coin.

He is important above all because of the power of the ideas he introduced to Slovenian poetry in the nineteenth century. His impact on the language was not immediate. Its effect would only make itself felt later. People today are undoubtedly aware of Prešeren's contribution to Slovenian poetry, thanks to the general national awareness that Prešeren represents a kind of turning point. Through the art of his words, this great poet reawakened Slovenian political consciousness as part of the maturing of Slovenian national identity, and with it traced a Slovenian path far ahead into the future.


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