May 26, 2019

WHITMAN SONG BLOG – We Two, How Long We Were Fool’d

1. We Two, How Long We Were Fool’d – Glen Roven

Time to share the fruits of our labor – Walt Whitman’s, Glen Roven’s, Laura Ward-Jimmy Reese-Keith Phares’s, and Lyric Fest’s, too.


What with our Whitman CAROL OF WORDS now a month behind us and with Whitman’s actual birthday approaching on May 31st, what better time? We start as we did for our events last month –  with an exuberant setting of “We two, how long we were fool’d” by Glen Roven. It’s from Children of Adam (page 93, 1860 edition, in case you are reaching for your dog-eared Leaves of Grass right now.) This was the first of many new Whitman settings that LF commissioned, and that were heard over 4 days’ time, as Lyric Fest set about to commemorate the 200th anniversary of this singular American poet.



There is story here that must be told; composer of “We Two…,” Glen Roven, passed away very unexpectedly, before hearing his new song premiered, before ever hearing it sung at all. He left us with this joyful song and so much more, but he left us. His New York Times obituary will tell you more about Glen’s life and work.

Glen Roven wrote:

After decades of composing, conducting, arranging and producing for artists from the worlds of Broadway, records, television and the movies, I turned my focus back to my first love: Classical Music. Since then I’ve created symphonies, song cycles, choral pieces, operas and concertos. The first few decades of my career have been full of unforgettable performances and compositions, but I believe some of my best music is yet to come.

Glen tragically passed away in late July, 2018 from Legionnaire’s desease. We believe the song he wrote for LF was his last composition. As fate would have it, he wrote it, and sent it in to LF 6 months ahead of time. Rest in Peace, Glen.


WE TWO, HOW LONG WE WERE FOOL’D  – Glen Roven (1958-2018) *world premiere
(Text below is as Glen set it.)

We too

How long we were fool’d!

Now transmuted, we swiftly escape, as Nature escapes;

We are Nature, long have we been absent,

But now we return;

We become plants, leaves, foliage, roots, bark;

We are bedded in the ground- we are rocks;

We are oaks- we grow in the openings side by side;

We brows – we two among the wild herds, spontaneous as any,

We are two fishes swimming in the sea together;

We are what the locust blossoms are – we drop scent around the lanes, mornings and


We are two resplendent suns-

We are two clouds, forenoons and afternoons, driving overhead;

We are seas mingling – we are two of those cheerful waves, rolling over each other, and

interwetting each other;

We are what the atmosphere is, transparent, receptive, pervious, impervious:

We are snow, rain, cold darkness- we are each product and influence of the globe;

We have circled and circled till we have arrive home again,

We two have;

We have voided all but freedom, and all but our own joy.

-from Leaves of Grass 1867 edition; Enfans d’Adam from Leaves of Grass 1860-1 edition

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