A musical dramatization of the essay by Loren Eiseley.

I could have thrown in a frenzy of joy, but I set my shoulders and cast, as the thrower in the rainbow cast, slowly, deliberately and well. The task was not to be assumed lightly. For it was men as well as starfish that we sought to save.

Among the best known essays of celebrated naturalist, Loren Eiseley, THE STAR THROWER stands as a profound and beautiful expression of the human spirit.

A solitary figure encountered at dawn on the wave-beaten shores of Costabel, the star thrower reaches into the boiling surf rescuing stranded starfish from certain death. With sure and graceful motion he hurls the living stars back into the sea. Unknown to the thrower, he stands in the arc of a flawless rainbow, a mythic figure of compassion as well as creativity, a hurler of suns, a sower of life among the galaxies.

Against the backdrop of his encounter with the “star thrower”, Eiseley re- thinks the critically austere mind-set of his profession as scientist as well as the haunting “trickster” nature of the universe. From Darwin to Einstein to Freud, Eiseley’s readers journey with him along a course leading back to the starfish thrower of Costabel and an experience destined to change his life.

Have you ever flung a star out into the cosmos?

He is not alone any longer. Call me another thrower. After us there will be others.

Many have talked about gazing at the stars. Robert Penn Warren has even written a poem about eating stars. But only Loren Eiseley, the internationally known anthropologist, naturalist and poet speaks of throwing stars. “I picked up and flung another star. Perhaps far outward on the rim of space a genuine star was similarly seized and flung. I could feel the movement in my body. It was like a sowing...the sowing of life on an infinitely gigantic scale.”

Loren Eiseley was a remarkable writer and scientist. He served for many years as the Benjamin Franklin Professor of Anthropology and the History of Science at the U. of Pennsylvania, and has been recognized for both his scientific work and as a distinguished educator. He has won numerous literary prizes for his books of essays and poetry including awards for the best book on science, best book tending to reconcile science and religion, the Joseph Wood Krutch Medal for significant contributions toward the improvement of life and the environment and the Bradford Washburn Award for outstanding contribution toward the public understanding of science.

Eiseley combined the scientist’s mind with the poet’s gift for words. As one critic put it, “What Eiseley has done is to make the ideas and findings of his special fields not only radiantly comprehensible but also spiritually meaningful.” And another, “He never lost his ability to wonder, to entertain mystery, and he possessed that great gift to be able to share this vision with others.”

Loren C. Eiseley

Eiseley wrote “The Star Thrower” in 1964 for his book of essays The Unexpected Universe. In it he confronts fundamental questions on the meaning of life, of the role and values of science and the reality of man’s spiritual nature. All this is told in an intriguing story about a trip to the island of Costabel and an unexpected meeting there with an extraordinary person “on a lonely wave- beaten coast at dawn” that changed his life.

“The task was not to be assumed lightly, for it was men as well as starfish that we sought to save.”

In the summer of 1992, the nationally recognized arts organization Associated Solo Artists was commissioned by the Center for Creative Leadership to compose an opera based on this essay for its International Conference on Innovation and Creativity. The opera, composed jointly by John Cimino, Jon Klibonoff and Richard Albagli, was first performed in October of that year for an audience of many of the world’s top experts on creativity.

“For a moment we cast on an infinite beach beside an unknown hurler of suns. Somewhere, I felt, this Thrower knew.”

“Call me another Thrower. After us, there will be others.”

“The Star Thrower” Premiere Thrills International Crowd

Two explosive standing ovations. Flowers hurled like shooting stars onto the stage as performers and composers took their bows. 

We are still basking in the glow of THE STAR THROWER. We couldn’t be more pleased with the work!”

For me, the pinnacle was THE STAR THROWER – and all I felt while appreciating your dedication and seeing the reality performed. You inspired numerous other “throwers” that evening. Our gratitude to one and all!”

A magnificent contribution! A great collaboration!”

Comments from the commissioning officers of THE STAR THROWER at the Center for Creative Leadership, Greensboro, North Carolina.