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Bubble: Rainbow (spirit level) (2003)

For soprano and ensemble
Texts by Elizabeth Bishop and Emily Dickinson

For soprano and ensemble consisting of flute, oboe, violin, cello, piano and percussionist (playing only vibraphone (motor off), 2 crotales (Eb and D), and 2 bongos)
Premiered by the Ensemble Sospeso, Rand Steiger, conductor, Lucy Shelton, soprano, on 9 January 2005
Duration: 5'

CD Available

This work is available on Augusta Read Thomas: Prairie Sketches


Elizabeth Bishop

For Elliott Carter, on his 95th birthday, with affection and admiration.

Elizabeth Bishop

Caught — the bubble
in the spirit level,
a creature divided;
and the compass needle
wobbling and wavering,
Freed — the broken
thermometer's mercury
running away;
and the rainbow-bird
from the narrow bevel
of the empty mirror,
flying wherever
it feels like, gay!


Emily Dickinson

Delight is as the flight (poem #257)
Emily Dickinson

Delight is as the flight —
Or in the Ratio of it,
As the Schools would say —
The Rainbow's way —
A Skein
Flung colored, after Rain,
Would suit as bright,
Except that flight
Were Aliment —

"If it would last"
I asked the East,
When that Bent Stripe
Struck up my childish
Firmament —
And I, for glee,
Took Rainbows, as the common way,
And empty Skies
The Eccentricity —

And so with Lives —
And so with Butterflies —
Seen magic — through the fright
That they will cheat the sight —
And Dower latitudes far on —
Some sudden morn —
Our portion — in the fashion —
Done —

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