The theme is failed communication between lovers. The song starts in a room washed by shadows from the sun slanting through the lace curtains and ends with the room "softly faded." They are as different as the poets they read: Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost.
Joan Baez recorded a version of the song which is one of her greatest hits, originally released in 1967 on the Joan album. She changed one of the lines to "Is the church really dead?" and Simon insisted that a line be inserted on the album's back cover that read: "Paul Simon asks Joan to note that the original line is, 'Is the theater really dead?'"
Les Fradkin has a dramatic version on his 2006 album, Jangleholic.