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Picture 10056827, photograph by Helios in Dumesnil, La musique en France entre les deux guerres, circa 1930s, image copyright Mary Evans

In Memoriam Francis Poulenc, 1963
by Richard Stoker

 

Pen in hand you take your final devotion

What should have been a day of creation

Turns to become a day of revelation.

Peaceful you lie, wearing the smile of old times

As if to greet the friend who will follow

The one who will grieve today when he hears –

Apollo is over.

 

Your colleagues continue at a pitch much lower,

Your friends are with you at a tempo slower.

 

The pen is taken from stiff fingers

It is no longer frozen there by cold morning

But lies on the desk now

With the paper and pencils

Which recorded the sounds and rhythms –

The shapes and forms –

Only you transposed into beauty.

 

The spirit remains in its finest intonation,

The strings offer you a final supplication.

 

The harp is silent in its mourning and

Voices only you could comprehend

Have fallen away one by one

Leaving only the solo song

As in the work which was fashioned

By the one who will follow –

 

A single voice finding its final repose,

A monody which only you could compose.

 

 

© Richard Stoker

Picture 10056827, photograph by Helios in Dumesnil, La musique en France entre les deux guerres, circa 1930s, image copyright Mary Evans

 

 

Richard Stoker (1938-2021) was an English composer, born in Castleford, Yorkshire. He studied with Lennox Berkeley at the Royal Academy of Music in London (1958-62), and with Nadia Boulanger in Paris under the Mendelssohn Scholarship (1962-63). He taught at the Royal Academy of Music for more than twenty years. He wrote many works, including an opera, Johnson Preserv’d, a piano concerto, three string quartets, three piano trios, song cycles, choral works, orchestral works and organ music. He occasionally wrote poetry – this poem was in response to the death of the French composer Francis Poulenc in Paris on 30 January 1963. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Stoker

 

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