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Two Years Later is a poem by John Wieners, an American poet who came to prominence in the Beat generation along with more famous names like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Wieners was an antiwar and gay rights activist whose poetry often deals with issues of madness, sexuality and marginalisation. Wieners said of his own poetry: “I try to write the most embarrassing thing I can think of.” Two Years Later could be seen as a reflection on his time in mental hospitals, where he underwent shock therapy.
Two Years Later
The hollow eyes of shock remain Electric sockets burnt out in the skull.
The beauty of men never disappears
But drives a blue car through the
This musical setting attempts to explore some of the resonances of the Wieners poem. In particular the contrast between the first and second stanzas – the intensity and heaviness of “hollow eyes” and “electric sockets” against the openness and peacefulness of “a blue car through the stars”. The music also makes use of spatial effects, where sounds are passed through the choir and transformed gradually as thick dense clusters give way to open fifths.
Commissioned by Voicemale choir, Westlake Boys High School
Suitable for advanced high school choirs, and amateur groups
Text by John Wieners, "Two Years Later"
11 Jun 2013: Performed by Voicemale Choir, conducted by David Squire, at the Auckland Town Hall, in Auckland