The text is taken directly from a passage from page 556 of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake. This passage follows right after another, which Cage used earlier in The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs, and Nowth upon Nacht is intended to be performed right after that piece. The vocal line is declamatory and uses a small number of high pitches. Cage did not make any alterations to Joyce's text. The pianist does not touch the keys but produces noises by shutting the piano lid with the sustain pedal depressed.