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Seeger, Alan (1888-1916)

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Alan Seeger

Alan Seeger

Seeger was born in New York City. His family moved to Mexico City in 1900. Much of the family magazine, The Prophet, was written by him. As a Harvard College student, he edited the Harvard Monthly, which published many of his poems. Among his rebellious fellow students was John Reed, who wrote Ten Days that Shook the World.

When war began in 1914, Alan Seeger was living in Paris. He signed up and enjoyed being part of the French Foreign Legion. The romantic poet wrote “I Have a Rendevous with Death” when he was exhausted with bronchitis. On June 18, 1915, he wrote to his mother, “Death is nothing after all.” On July 4 he was dead.


Seeger’s Poem “I Have a Rendezvous with Death”

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air—
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath—
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows ’twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear . . .
But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.