Alan Seeger

A
Alan Seeger
Champagne, 1914-15
In the glad revels, in the happy fêtes,
When cheeks are flushed, and glasses gilt and pearled
With the sweet wine of France that concentrates
The sunshine and the beauty of the world,

Drink sometimes, you whose footsteps yet may tread
The undisturbed, delightful paths of Earth,
To those whose blood, in pious duty shed,
Hallows the soil where that same wine had birth.

Here, by devoted comrades laid away,
Along our lines they slumber where they fell,
Beside the crater at the Ferme d’Alger
And up the bloody slopes of La Pompelle,

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The Hosts

Purged, with the life they left, of all
That makes life paltry and mean and small,
In their new dedication charged
With something heightened, enriched, enlarged,
That lends a light to their lusty brows
And a song to the rhythm of their trampling feet,
These are the men that have taken vows,
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Ode in Memory of the American Volunteers Fallen for France
(To have been read before the statue of Lafayette and Washington in Paris, on Decoration Day, May 30, 1916)
I
Ay, it is fitting on this holiday,
Commemorative of our soldier dead,
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Sonnet 10: I have sought Happiness, but it has been
I have sought Happiness, but it has been
A lovely rainbow, baffling all pursuit,
And tasted Pleasure, but it was a fruit
More fair of outward hue than sweet within.
Renouncing both, a flake in the ferment
Of battling hosts that conquer or recoil,
There only, chastened by fatigue and toil,
I knew what came the nearest to content.
For there at least my troubled flesh was free
From the gadfly Desire that plagued it so;
Discord and Strife were what I used to know,
Heartaches, deception, murderous jealousy;
By War transported far from all of these,
Amid the clash of arms I was at peace.
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Sonnet 16: Who shall invoke her, who shall be her priest

Who shall invoke her, who shall be her priest,
With single rites the common debt to pay?
On some green headland fronting to the East
Our fairest boy shall kneel at break of day.
Naked, uplifting in a laden tray
New milk and honey and sweet-tinctured wine,
Not without twigs of clustering apple-spray
To wreath a garland for Our Lady's shrine.
The morning planet poised above the sea
Shall drop sweet influence through her drowsing lid;
Dew-drenched, his delicate virginity
Shall scarce disturb the flowers he kneels amid,
That, waked so lightly, shall lift up their eyes,
Cushion his knees, and nod between his thighs.
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Sonnet 2: Not that I always struck the proper mean 
Not that I always struck the proper mean
Of what mankind must give for what they gain,
But, when I think of those whom dull routine
And the pursuit of cheerless toil enchain,
Who from their desk-chairs seeing a summer cloud
Race through blue heaven on its joyful course
Sigh sometimes for a life less cramped and bowed,
I think I might have done a great deal worse;
For I have ever gone untied and free,
The stars and my high thoughts for company;
Wet with the salt-spray and the mountain showers,
I have had the sense of space and amplitude,
And love in many places, silver-shoed,
Has come and scattered all my path with flowers.
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Sonnet 9: On Returning to the Front after Leave
Apart sweet women (for whom Heaven be blessed),
Comrades, you cannot think how thin and blue
Look the leftovers of mankind that rest,
Now that the cream has been skimmed off in you.
War has its horrors, but has this of good—
That its sure processes sort out and bind
Brave hearts in one intrepid brotherhood
And leave the shams and imbeciles behind.
Now turn we joyful to the great attacks,
Not only that we face in a fair field
Our valiant foe and all his deadly tools,
But also that we turn disdainful backs
On that poor world we scorn yet die to shield—
That world of cowards, hypocrites, and fools.

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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
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