Published in 2008 for the first time in Rorem's 50 Collected Songs, "The End," which sets a poem of Dana Gioia from 1986, was written in March of 2003 and premiered the same year at American University.
by Dana Gioia
Last night I dreamed the end had come.
Silent, impotent, invisible as air,
I stood by in a hundred places:
a stranger's house, a city street, an office and a garden--
and like a sleeper shaken from a dream
I witnessed what I could not understand.
A woman washing dishes at a sink
looked out her window calmly as she heard
something unexpected in the air.
Men on the sidewalk, drivers in the street
observed the weather in a cloudless sky
and kept going.
In an office clerks and secretaries glanced up
at the clock without remembering the time.
I saw the same cold profile everywhere at once--
a pale face looking up against the light,
then bending down again indifferently,
only this dull reflex of acceptance,
then nothing else, nothing ever again.