|Birthplace:||New York, United States|
|Death:||Died in Belloy-en-Santerre, France|
|Managed by:||Michael Reid Delahunt, art teacher & lexicographer|
About Alan Seeger
Alan Seeger was an American poet who fought in France during the First World War. Alan was killed by machine-gun fire on July 4, 1916, in a charge.
His most famous poem was “Rendezvous,” published posthumously in 1917:
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.
[Downloaded 2009 from Wikipedia:]
Alan Seeger, born June 22, 1888 and died July 4, 1916, was an American poet who fought in World War I. A statue to his memory and to the memory of his comrades, Americans who had volunteered to fight for France, was erected in the Place des États-Unis, Paris.
Born in New York, Seeger moved with his family to Staten Island at the age of one and remained there until the age of ten. In 1900, his family moved to Mexico for two years, which influenced the imagery of some of his poetry. His brother Charles Seeger, a noted musicologist, was the father of the American folk singer, Pete Seeger.
Seeger entered Harvard in 1906 after attending several elite preparatory schools, including Hackley School. At Harvard, he edited and wrote for the Harvard Monthly. After graduating in 1910, he moved to Greenwich Village for two years, where he wrote poetry and enjoyed the life of a young bohemian.
During that time, he attended soirées at the Mlles. Petitpas' boardinghouse (319 West 29th Street), where the presiding genius was the artist and sage John Butler Yeats, father of the poet.
Having moved to the Latin Quarter of Paris to continue his seemingly itinerant intellectual lifestyle, on August 24, 1914, Seeger joined the French Foreign Legion so that he could fight for the Allies in World War I (the United States did not enter the war until 1917). He was killed in action at Belloy-en-Santerre, famously cheering on his fellow soldiers in a successful charge after being hit several times himself by machine gun fire. One of his more famous poems, "I Have a Rendezvous with Death," was published posthumously. Indeed, a recurrent theme in both his poetic works and his personal writings prior to falling in battle was his desire for his life to end gloriously at an early age.
Seeger's poetry was not published until 1917, a year after his death. Poems, a collection of his works, was relatively unsuccessful, due, according to Eric Homberger, to its lofty idealism and language, qualities out of fashion in the early decades of the twentieth century.
Poems was reviewed in The Egoist, where the critic commented that "Seeger was serious about his work and spent pains over it. The work is well done, and so much out of date as to be almost a positive quality. It is high-flown, heavily decorated and solemn, but its solemnity is thorough going, not a mere literary formality. Alan Seeger, as one who knew him can attest, lived his whole life on this plane, with impeccable poetic dignity; everything about him was in keeping." The man who wrote this review of Poems was T. S. Eliot, Seeger's classmate at Harvard.
On 4 July 1923, the President of the French Council of State, Raymond Poincaré, dedicated a monument in the Place des États-Unis to the Americans who had volunteered to fight in World War I in the service of France. The monument, in the form of a bronze statue on a plinth, executed by Jean Boucher, had been financed through a public subscription.
Boucher had used a photograph of Seeger as his inspiration, and Seeger's name can be found, among those of twenty-three others who had fallen in the ranks of the French Foreign Legion, on the back of the plinth. Also, on either side of the base of the statue, are two excerpts from Seeger's "Ode in Memory of the American Volunteers Fallen for France", a poem written shortly before his death on 4 July 1916. Seeger intended that his words should be read in Paris on 30 May of that year, at an observance of the American holiday, Decoration Day (later known as Memorial Day):
They did not pursue worldly rewards; they wanted nothing more than to live without regret, brothers pledged to the honor implicit in living one's own life and dying one's own death. Hail, brothers! Goodbye to you, the exalted dead! To you, we owe two debts of gratitude forever: the glory of having died for France, and the homage due to you in our memories.