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Lorand Gaspar: Extract from The Aegean Sea

by John Cobley

Friday Feb 23rd, 2024



Lorand Gaspar (1925-2019) was a Romanian-born French poet. In his long poem Égée, Gaspar explores creative aspects of the 4,000-year-old Minoan artifacts that were discovered in Crete by Sir Arthur Evans in 1900. Clearly influenced by Paul Valéry’s Le cimetière Marin and Holderlin’s Der Archipelagus, this ambitious poem challenges the reader. The  extract below attempts to describe the process of creating a Minoan statue.





The hand spells out to the drowsiness of the rocks

the names and rhythms for an incantation. 

And this voice drawn from the opaque is so clear,

the throat so simple that it opens what matters,

that the hand trembles on the grooved slopes.

Leaning against the night, it pauses again,

so many subtle noises of water in the fingers,

it follows a line still unknown in the world,

from point to point where its touch breathes,

where the wave of stone unbuttons its body,                                                10

unfastens at the belly the joy of fullness,

it repeats the line already unknown in the world

in the heat of the same forgotten ravage.


Note: I am grateful for the help of Robert Perry and Iain Higgins in translating this poem.

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