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Fathomless Patriot, Op. 116 (2020)

For tenor and piano


Joe Clark, tenor, piano

Duration: 5'30"

  1. I.
  2. II.
  3. III.

Program Notes:

I first met Joseph Thompson in person in rehearsals for my 7th Annual Summer Chamber Music Recital in August 2017. I was enamored with his voice (I'm always a sucker for high tenor) and vaguely thought that I might want to write something for him at some point. Although we've only spent time together once in person (the following summer), we've kept in touch via periodic phone calls, and I consider him to be one of my closest friends.

He posted this poem to Facebook last November, and I was immediately taken with it - it has intensely evocative imagery without seeming to gravitate towards any particular interpretation. I am happy and honored to finally have the chance to set it.


They say what I say lacks the maturity of the proletariat; we fancied ourselves literate—owners of a ghastly dispensation—destined to usher in the era of Shakespeare’s demise,

A banquet of word graced our lips; scratching the ears of a stretching society,

But unwarranted, hissed and scratched by a dogmatic conservative;

Trailing blood through lengthy anecdotes and serial diversions, we built an edifice unto our gods,

To be defiled by the unlikeliest of heroes: the true and honest purveyor


But could the truth not so deftly uproot the delicate threads of a blossoming abomination;

We cry out—as a sucking babe wrested from its mother’s breast—lusting after the pension of a fabricated stipulation,

Suddenly: indignation and abjection—the division of mind—grapples the edges of sanity,

Illusions of genius remain, taunting those desperate to give chase


A crumbling reality threatens fatal perspective—dragging hope to the pits of Hell,

Yet, we cling to criticism as the face of pride—splitting tooth and nail on its bloody facade,

And the ship sinks; weighed by the selfish contempt of a discordant generation for which there is no cure,

The league of fallen souls, latch to the plunging hull and spur its dissension— For those lost in the waves of tumult must surely drown