Two Poems of Josephine Johnson


The passionate and thoughtful words of Pulitzer Prize winning poet Josephine Johnson, in two settings. Also available separately.
For SATB a cappella.

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Kallman Creates Publications, Composer Daniel Kallman Kallman Creates Publications

Josephine Johnson was an American novelist, poet, and essayist who won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1935 at age 24 and who wrote from a deep love for nature. Kallman has set two of her poems for SATB a cappella. They are also available separately: “Let Go. Return” and “But of Deep Love.” Both texts are printed below. Duration: 6’30”

Listen to “Two Poems of Josephine Johnson”

I. Let Go. Return (Honors Choirs of SE MN, Michael Culloton, conducting)


II. But of Deep Love (Honors Choirs of SE MN, Michael Culloton, conducting)


View “Two Poems of Josephine Johnson”

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View score: I. Let Go. Return

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View Score: II. But of Deep Love

Composer’s Notes

These two settings were commissioned by the Concert Choir of the Honors Choirs of Southeast Minnesota, an excellent high school choir. They are also available separately as: “Let Go. Return” and “But of Deep Love.”

Here are the texts:

I. Let Go. Return

This is the need, the deep necessity of every life:
To scatter wide seed in many fields,
But build one barn.

This is our blunder, to have built
Gilt shacks for every seed,
And followed our sowing on fast, anxious feet,
Desiring to grind the farmost grain.

Let go. Let go. Return
Heighten and straighten the barn’s first beam.
Give shape and form. Discover the rat, the splintered stair.
Throw out the dry, gray corn.

Then may it be said of you:
Behold, he had done one thing well,
And he knows whereof he speaks, and he means what he has said,
And we may trust him.
This is sufficient for a life.

–Josephine W. Johnson, from Year’s End, 1937, used by permission.

II. But of Deep Love

But of deep love is the desire to give
More than the living touch of warmth and fire,
More than shy comfort of the little flesh and hands;
It is the need to give
Down to the last kernel of the heart,
Down to the final gift of mind;
It is a need to give you that release which comes
Only of understanding, and to know
Trust without whimpering doubt and fear.

–Josephine W. Johnson, from September, 1935, used by permission.