THE EYE THAT DIRECTS A NEEDLE

Composer: 

Year Authored (or revised): 

2013

Scoring: 

sop, vln, perc

Duration (min): 

9

Text Source/Author: 

journal of Maria Mitchell (1818-1889)

Maria Mitchell was one of America’s first professional astronomers, and she came to international fame with her discovery of new comet in 1847.  She was one of the original  members of the faculty of Vassar College, which was founded in 1864. Her journals and letters are filled with writings about science and education, and her writing is often poetical and vivid.  The Eye that Directs a Needle is a setting of the following excerpt from her journal:

“Dec. 26, 1854. They were wonderful men, the early astronomers.  That was a great conception, which now seems to us so simple, that the earth turns upon its axis, and a still greater one that it revolves about the sun (to show this last was worth a man’s lifetime, and it really almost cost the life of Galileo). Somehow we are ready to think that they had a wider field than we for speculation, that truth being all unknown it was easier to take the first step in its paths. But is the region of truth limited? Is it not infinite?... We know a few things which were once hidden, and being known they seem easy; but there are the flashings of the Northern Lights; there is the conical zodiacal beam seen so beautifully in the early evenings of spring and the early mornings of autumn; there are the startling comets, whose use is all unknown; there are the brightening and flickering variable stars, whose cause is all unknown; and the meteoric showers--and for all of these the reasons are as clear as for the succession of day and night; they lie just beyond the daily mist of our minds, but our eyes have not yet pierced through it.” 

 

- from  the journal of Maria Mitchell  (1818-1889)

vibraphone, glockenspiel,
maracas, 5 temple blocks,
bamboo wind chimes, guiro

Listening Sample: 

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