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The Great Spangled Fritillary Cover Design


The Great Spangled Fritillary-1991

(marimba & violin)


Music by: Andrew Thomas
Poem by:
Christopher Hewitt

Information Parts & score available through: Shawnee Press

The Great Spangled Fritillary

1. In the Chrysalis

I twist in my chrysalis
dreaming of violets--
their scented nurturing,
their heart-shaped leaves
on which I fed as caterpillar.
I was in love with violets,
I even think in violet light,
but here come the sun's bright
fingers unfastening my bleary-
eyed emergence. I split
the cobwebs with my wings
like sails unfurling--
the dawn's breath flutters them
new and wet with secrecy
on the oaktree bough.

2. First Flight

I am afraid.
I dip.
I dive.
I am clumsy.
I am a flying laundress
wet sheets for wings--
will they ever dry?
I hate my name--
if only I were Star Spangled,
that at least would be patriotic!
I wish I were Pearly Crescentspot,
Angelic Hairstreak, or Sylvan Angelwing.
Ouch!-- a thistle's thorn!
Oh!-- a cow's nose!
But look!-- I triumph
high above the lake,
my reflection necklace-like
around its throat,
its waters that could drown
a million of me.
I'm grateful I'm not Questionmark,
Lost Metalmark, or Dingy Arctic,
or worst of all the Ruddy Daggerwing!

3. Under the Full Moon

It's peaceful here
beneath the stars;
my wings handsome
in moonlight--
I think the night becomes me:
skating down the moonbeams
on my brush-feet, I am
night's magician
conjuring the breeze,
the attention of sighs.
From the stars I learn
a faith, a steadfastness.
I'm not lonely--
it's just that I am young
and airborn, passing now
through shadows not menacing
but kind
like well-earned sleep.


It's morning.
I am confident,
sipping nectar
from the Blackeyed Susans,
their tongue-petals
stroking me with sun
in the moist meadows.
I am palpitating,
high above the seething
grasses. I am glad
to be myself:
the Great Spangled Fritillary,
female of the species,
proud and in my prime:
I soar unafraid
knowing my destiny:
In mid-air I'll mate,
a stroking of wings
(a whispering of speckled fans)--
then hide myself in mossy
bark deep in a wood
and later lay my eggs
near violets-- to violets
I'll return. Even now
the safety of their scent
bears me aloft
high in the joyous morning
this spring day!

Christopher Hewitt (Feb 2, 1946 - July 13, 2004)

Program Notes:
After I finished the composition of The Great Spangled Fritillary, I asked Christopher to write a poem for it. His words would serve as a program note for the work. I generated a sound score on a computer for him to hear, and we discussed the events of the music together. Afterwards, he wrote the accompanying poem. It surpasses any technical notes I could provide, and it creates a magical context for the music and for the listener's imagination.

Premiered: 1988 at Houghton Chapel at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, Nancy Zeltsman, marimba & Sharon Leventhal, violin

Recording: Marimolin: Marimolin, GM Recordings, 1988, Nancy Zeltsman, marimba & Sharon Leventhal, violin