Overlooking a wonderful heath and the Courreaux sound stands the statue of Jean-Pierre Calloc’h. Draped in a stone coat, gazing towards the continent, he is a reminder that Groix is a small island in the middle of the sea.
Jean-Pierre Calloc’h (or Yann-Ber Kalloc’h in Breton) is a famous Groix poet. Born on the island in 1888, he is mainly known and acclaimed for the volume of poetry « Ar en deulin » ( on my knees) and more precisely for the poems « Me zo ganet e kreiz ar mor » (I was born in the middle of the sea) and « La prière du guetteur » (The spotter prayer).
His father was a fisherman, he died at sea in 1902. Jean-Pierre Calloc’h wished to become a priest and even started going to the seminary but was forced to stop when his two sisters and brother got ill. He then became a tutor in Paris and Reims, never ceasing to write under the pseudonym of « Bleimor » (master mariner or literally sea wolf).
Along with millions of young men, he was sent to the First World War front. The poem « La prière du guetteur » is a record of these troubled times.
« Je suis le grand Veilleur debout sur la tranchée.
Je sais ce que je suis et je sais ce que je fais :
L’âme de l’Occident, sa terre, ses filles et ses fleurs,
C’est toute la beauté du Monde que je garde cette nuit.
I am the great Spotter, standing on the trench.
I know what I am and I know what I am doing :
The soul of the Occident, its soil, its daughters and its flowers,
It is the beauty of the World I am watching over tonight. »
He died on the field of honor in April 1917. The volume of poetry Ar en Deulin was published after his death. Most of its poems were composed in the trenches. Jean-Pierre Calloc’h’s main interests come to light : his deep faith, his love for Brittany and its language. All poems were written in Breton.
The island of Groix paid tribute to the poet by erecting this statue in 1968. Above the creek of Port Melin, a few hundred meters away from the dam, it represents Jean-Pierre Calloc’h and features his most famous verses, in Breton and French, along with his birth and death dates.