Taking inspiration from John Webster’s poem Vanitas Vanitatum, the music follows the same basic structure and mood. The score largely consists of woodwind and string soli, with clarinet often re-iterating the disjunct Messiaen influenced rhythms. Rather than providing a definite climax, momentary surges of energetic wildness erupt from the otherwise calm setting.
All the flowers of the spring
Meet to perfume our burying;
These have but their growing prime,
And man does flourish but his time;
We are set, we grow, we turn to earth.
Courts adieu, and all delights,
All bewitching appetites!
Sweetest breath and clearest eye,
Like perfumes, go out and die;
And consequently this is done
As shadows wait upon the sun.
Vain ambition of kings
Who seek by trophies and dead things
To leave a living name behind,
And weave but nets to catch the wind.