Two poems by Eugenio Montale (1896 -1981) are the centre of the work: Crisalide (Chrysalis) and Casa sul mare (House by the sea). The first of these is set in the original Italian, the second in the fine English translation by Jonathan Galassi. They are framed by two epigrammatic fragments from the French poems Rilke wrote towards the end of his life.
Two instrumental ‘interludes’ come at the end of Crisalide : a turbulent continuation of the poem, spilling over into a sombre postlude; and before the final stanza of Casa sul mare – an almost funeral-march like interruption of the poem. The closing Rilke epigram echoes the opening: just as a continuum has no end, so the work spirals back to its beginning.