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 â€“
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 â€“
The shapes and forms â€“
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 â€“
A single voice finding its final repose,
A monody which only you could compose.
Â© 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 Preservâ€™d, a piano concerto, three string quartets, three piano trios, song cycles, choral works, orchestral works and organ music. He occasionally wrote poetry â€“ 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