While written and performed as a song, this piece is almost more like an operatic aria, with its high intensity and vocal demands upon the singer. It requires ringing high notes and excellent breath control, and the melody is not immediately easy to grasp, though it is quite appealing.
It begins calmly, with the orchestra imitating the swallow that the singer is watching, "Under the frame of the ancient tower, a friendly swallow has returned at the flowering of the almond tree. She returns each year, always on the same day, and she crosses mountains and seas in order to return." This almost conversational tone becomes an outburst of "Only love, when it has fled and gone away, you hope in vain, but it doesn't come back!" The next verse repeats this parrent, the lighter "In the sweet shdaows of the evening, springtime passes, swallows are singing while they fly about, drunk with light and air. And I am sad and alone, you do not cross mountains and seas in order to return!" Again, there is a passionate outburst, "My little one, you were my entire life, you have flown, but don't come back, you have flown, and do not come back!"