Envoi - (2017)    

William Roscoe Thayer

medium voice and piano


I walked with poets in my youth,
   Because the world they drew
Was beautiful and glorious
   Beyond the world I knew.

The poets are my comrades still,
   But dearer than in youth,
For now I know that they alone
   Picture the world of truth.

2 pages, circa 2' 00"

William Roscoe Thayer (18591923)


The text is found in Anthology of Massachusetts Poets, William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. 1922.  The term, envoi, while of specific function in some poetry of form-breaking emphasis and closure, has an earlier meaning -- message -- and by extension one might infer the messenger as well. Thayer's "envoi" then seems to urge on the reading and comprehension of poetry of the many poets with whom he "walked" in youth, and who still abided with him in old age.



The four-measure gesture of two harmonies as a quasi-minimalist construction accompanies the largest portion of this setting of a text by American author and historian, William Roscoe Thayer. The notion that poetry -- heightened speech -- may capture "pictures" of truth blends in retrospect with Ludwig Wittgenstein's notion of "pictures" (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1921) as thought modules which generate such a broad range of language from few versatile elements. That one may "picture the world of truth" thereby, and in this manner, suggests the power of such imagery in poetic words. This, for me, is the force and explanatory strength of so much of Poetry .


"Picture the world of truth." It can be "beautiful and glorious" beyond the world we know.





The score for Envoi is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.