The text of the Cantata, composed in 1969 and dedicated to Jill-Robin, is by the composer and is based on tomb inscriptions and free translations by Sappho and other Greek poets. The composition has a marked aleatory character and in the score, Birtwistle prescribed that the refrain is to appear three times. Conductors are assigned the task of indicating the tempo, duration, legato, staccato dynamics to the players.
After its first performance Financial Times wrote that “through a masterful exploitation of the timbres of both voice and instruments, the composer achieves very interesting sonorities. This is particularly evident during the third and fourth ‘fragments’”.