The poem provided the initial inspiration and stimulus for my string quartet, but the music is not intended to be programmatic in the nineteenth century sense. I suppose the dark opening chords may well sound like manna turning to gall, and the elegiac passion of the violin melody that weaves above is certainly connected to the first lines, but there are no further literal (or literary) parallels intended beyond perhaps subliminal associations. The dark, claustrophobic mood of the adagio opening continues into the following main Allegro, but now with energy and perhaps even menace. The adagio and allegro are motifically linked.
A short Adagio follows, much more diatonically tonal than the first movement, simpler, almost naïve, and conceived with luminous chords and transparent textures to form a striking contrast to the dark complexity of the first movement.
A brief Recitative movement draws upon the melodies of the very opening of the work: this leads directly to an Allegro Vivace finale which gives a different perspective on the energetic, motivic material of the first movement and also re-works the dark signature chord which dominates much of the work.