All terms

What is an envoi?

A concluding stanza of a poem or a brief final statement at the end of a letter or other pieces of literature.

The Perfect Farewell: Understanding the Literary Device of Envoi

The envoi is a literary device that serves as a sort of postscript to bring closure to a piece of literature. It can take various forms, such as being the final stanza of a poem or a brief final statement at the end of a letter. Envois are often used to reinforce the main themes or messages of the preceding work and may contain a direct appeal or message to the reader or listener.

The term 'envoi' originates from the French 'envoyer', meaning 'to send,' which reflects the device's function as a 'sending off' or farewell. Envois are commonly employed in medieval poetry, particularly in troubadour and trouvere traditions, but they are still widely used in modern literature, songwriting, and even email and text messages.

When using an envoi, writers have the opportunity to leave a lasting impression and to reinforce their main points or themes. They can bring a sense of closure to the work while also offering an opportunity to add a final flourish or touch of humor or emotion. Whether you're writing a poem, an email, or a novel, always consider the power of a well-crafted envoi to give your work an impactful goodbye.

Envoi in Action: Examples from Literature

Envois have been used in literature for centuries, adding a touch of closure and reinforcing important themes. Here are two examples of envois in action:

'To His Coy Mistress' by Andrew Marvell

Marvell's famous poem concludes with an envoi in which he urges his mistress to 'make much of time' and to 'seize the day':

Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

'Prufrock' by T.S. Eliot

In Eliot's poem, the envoi is used to reinforce Prufrock's sense of isolation and to leave the reader with a sense of haunting finality:

Till human voices wake us, and we drown.