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Justin Connolly

Publisher: Novello & Co

Poems of Wallace Stevens II (1970)
Novello & Co Ltd
Solo Voice(s) and up to 6 players
Year Composed
13 Minutes

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Programme Note
Justin Connolly Poems of Wallace Stevens II (1970)
Poems of Wallace Stevens II consists of settings of texts by the distinguished American poet who died in 1955. This group of poems, taken from widely different periods in Stevens' output, illustrates the conjunction of landscapes with living beings. In the first setting, a wild-cat confronts his natural prey, herds of deer. Their panic and his attack are set against the background of the vast spaces of the prairie. In the second setting, the prairie itself is compared to the featureless and uncontrollable ocean, which when men observe it becomes a paradigm of their own restlessness and incessant pursuit of natural instincts. A clarinet solo interlude which separates the two settings acts as a bridge between the sensations of man and those of the animal in the shared half-world of sleep and dreams. In the final setting a dance is in progress, wild and abandoned; as it ceases we become aware that the dancers are two little girls, circling a stump in the midst of Oklahoma. As they dance they cry out, in an excess of pure animal spirits, 'celebrating the marriage of flesh and air'. Their cries are transformed into the clarinet cadenza which ends the movement and the work.

© George Nicholson


Every time the bucks went clattering
Over Oklahoma
A firecat bristled in the way.

Wherever they went,
They went clattering,
Until they swerved
In a swift, circular line
To the right,
Because of the firecat.

Or until they swerved
In a swift, circular line
To the left,
Because of the firecat.

The bucks clattered,
The firecat went leaping
To the right, to the left,
Bristled in the way.

Later, the firecat closed his bright eyes
And slept.


Let the place of the solitaires
Be a place of perpetual undulation.

Whether it be in mid sea,
On the dark, green water-wheel,
Or on the beaches,
There must be no cessation
Of motion, or of the noise of motion,
The renewal of noise
And manifold continuation,

And most, of the motion of thought
And its restless iteration

In the place of the solitaires,
Which is to be a place of perpetual undulation.


In Oklahoma,
Bonnie and Josie,
Dressed in calico,
Danced round a stump.
They cried,
Celebrating the marriage
Of flesh and air.

  • Soloist(s)
    Jane Manning, soprano
    Roger Montgomery
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