Poem Honoring Veterans

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Poem Honoring Veterans
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By Ernie

Tomorrow, Nov 11th, is Veterans Day and is also the 99th Anniversary marking the end of WWI.  (It was formerly called Armistice Day).  Alan Seeger was an American who wanted to fight against the Germans. Soon after WWI started in the summer of 1914, he joined the French Foreign Legion in August 1914, several years prior to the US entering the war on April 6, 1917.

He was born on 22 June 1888 in New York City and he was killed on the 4th of July 1916 at the age of 28, during the Battle of the Somme.  Seeger was the uncle of American folk singer Pete Seeger, and was a classmate of T.S. Eliot at Harvard.  Seeger is best known for the poem, I Have a Rendezvous with Death, a favorite of President John F. Kennedy.  A statue representing him is on the monument in the Place des États-UnisParis, honoring fallen Americans who volunteered for France during the war.
Below is this beautiful poem to honor all American veterans and especially those who have given their all for our country.

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.
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RHS Nov 11, 2017 09:44 AM
Poem Honoring Veterans

I think, as is often the case, that people misunderstand or simply appropriate ideas for their own cause. In my readings of this poem, over decades, it has never been meant to "honor" the deaths but to express the poignant and terrible tragedy that was the taking of lives by powers out of the control of those being killed. At most, the victim has been infused with the fatalism of the outcome and has been brainwashed with the propriety of the outcome. The poem, to me, has always been an indictment of war.

a-1510427303 Nov 11, 2017 11:08 AM
Poem Honoring Veterans

RHS: I leave poem's the interpretation to all that read it . I asked that this poem be published because of its beauty and solemnness and to honor all those who have served our country, especially those who have given their lives. Ernie

RHS Nov 12, 2017 09:43 AM
Poem Honoring Veterans

Well, "given" their lives is a bit presumptive. When people are brainwashed or simply drafted into servitude it is not clear that they are willingly dying for a cause that they may not even comprehend, much less support. But the point is that the poem poignantly describes the fatalism of the author's death...not its value to a better world.

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