Saturday, November 11, 2017

November 11, 2017 .... Veterans Day

I have included bits and pieces about the origin and the history of Veterans Day in years past. I will relinquish that this time around with the hope that anyone not familiar with the occasion and actually curious about it will take the time to do some research. Instead, I will include a poem by Alan Seeger.

Seeger was an American fighting with the French Foreign Legion and killed on July 4, 1916, at age twenty-six at Belloy-en-Santerre during the Battle of the Somme in World War I. Since Veterans Day began as Armistice Day following "the war to end all wars," it seems appropriate to have a poem here written by someone who fought and died during it. Seeger was a classmate of the British poet T.S. Eliot at Harvard, and this poem is said to have been a favorite of President John F. Kennedy.
"I Have a Rendezvous with Death"
by Alan Seeger

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.



15 comments:

Kaya said...

Yes, you included many interesting pieces of the Veterans Day in your blog through the years, Fram. I remember some of them, especially your post about invasion of Normandy.

Today I learned about Alan Seeger. I didn't know that his poem " I have a Rendezvous with Death" was one of favorite poems of John F. Kennedy. Interesting...

You made me also wonder did Alan Seeger was ready to meet death, was he anticipating it? What struck me the most is his words about spring. We are waiting for spring, we are looking forward for it. Spring is a new life but his thoughts are only about death.

I once was told that death isn't the end of the world. Maybe Alan Seeger also believed in that.

Anyway, I always liked your post devoted to Veterans Day, Fram.

This is also a wonderful and thoughtful post!

Fram Actual said...

War, especially in the past, often is near-dormant during winter months and spring is the time of the year armies almost always launch major offensive actions. Weather is a key factor when waging war. A logical assumption is that Alan Seeger's focus on spring was in anticipation of being killed during an offensive at that time.

You might have noted that his death came on July 4 -- American Independence Day.

From what I have read about Seeger, Kaya, he was hoping for a "glorious" death in battle .... and, that was to be his fate.

Whether death is the absolute end, none of us will know until the time for it comes .... and then, if death is the absolute end, we will have no way of knowing. All-in-all, from my point of view, this is a very unsatisfactory conclusion to our time walking upon the earth. It frustrates me and it angers me that there is a strong likelihood we exist in the here and now with significant questions which do not have answers and that might be it -- end of story. Being everlastingly curious, I want answers to everything.

So, Kaya, thank you, for returning here on Veterans Day and for commenting and for liking my post. Stay safe, and keep searching for special photographs ....

Liplatus said...

Impressive poetry.
Death is already present in words ....
In difficult times, love gives confidence to tomorrow.
Believe that spring is still coming.

Unfortunately, Alan Seeger died only at the age of 26.

Valuable videos, storing history for current and future generations.

Peace to you, good days.

A Cuban In London said...

Great poem and poignant post. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

It was not a secret that Alan Seeger was hoping for a "heroic death" on a battlefield and, ultimately, he found it.

I think I would describe Seeger as a "war lover" .... at least his overt actions and his poetry and descriptions of him by others would indicate as much. A writer named John Hersey wrote a fascinating (to me) novel entitled, "The War Lover," about B-17 fliers during World War II. It describes a man whose emotional and physical reactions to war and destruction enter the realm of sensual experience. I have met a few men like that. Hersey also wrote, "The Wall," about the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto by the Nazis. I lived within walking distance of the ghetto site for a while and have talked to people who lived through its destruction, which makes that book and that event also points of fascination for me.

Incidentally, Alan Seeger's family is sort of fascinating, too. (I sure use that word a lot, it would seem.) Many were noted pacifists and his brother was the father of song writer/singer/liberal political activist Peter "Pete" Seeger. The diversity of beliefs about war among family members -- pacifists vs. war lover(s) -- could make for an interesting psychological study.

Yes, I think these videos are important, too. This is especially true in an age when so many are determined to rewrite history to suit contemporary political and social standards.

Thank you, Liplatus, for visiting me here and for your comment. I wish you peace and good fortune ....

Fram Actual said...

You know, CiL, I almost used the poem, "Trees," by Joyce Kilmer for this post, but the tirade you threw when I included it in one of my comments on your blog a few years ago made such an impact on me that I decided not to risk a second go-round. I think you really need to lighten up a bit about religion.

Anyway, I am glad this poetic selection and this post pleased you. Thank you, for your presence and your words ....

Astrid-Anita said...

Beautiful poem Fram!

Fram Actual said...

Yes, it certainly is, Anita ....

It probably should be no surprise Alan Seeger was a fine poet. He came from a family which was active in the arts, and he wrote for and edited the "Harvard Monthly" while he was a student there. He moved to Greenwich Village after Harvard, where he mingled with "young intellectuals" and wrote poetry. His next stop was the Latin Quarter in Paris, which was home to any number of ex-patriates trying to find their place in the realm of arts and letters. If it were not for his "rendezvous with death" during World War I, who can say what he might have accomplished?

Thank you, for your visit and for your words, Anita .... I appreciate your presence ....

Smareis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Smareis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Smareis said...

Boa tarde Fram!
Tudo bem com você? Muito frio por ai. Aqui só calor e muito calor. Gostei da sua postagem. Eu não conheço nada a respeito de Alan Seeger.
Uma poesia é muito tensa e forte, e pelo jeito ele foi mais conhecido por esse escrito. Morreu muito jovem. Talvez já tenha uma morte no sangue, queria ficar na história do seu País. Queria ser lembrado, o que é poema eo favorito John F. Kennedy.
Vou pesquisar um pouco sobre o Alan Seeger. Os dois vídeos são muito bons. Uma boa homenagem dedicada ao Dia dos Veteranos Fram.
Desejo um bom fim de semana!
Sorrisos e bem!
Apareça, não muito muito risos.

Smareis said...

Desculpa por deletar dois comentários Fram, entraram duplicados.

Fram Actual said...

There actually is very little information available about Alan Seeger .... at least, very little that I have been able to find.

Members of his family -- before and after him -- were prominent, but it would seem he did not live long enough to make a mark on the world. Had Seeger survived World War I as did Ernest Hemingway and T.E. Lawrence and Erich Maria Remarque and J.R.R. Tolkien and others, perhaps young Mr. Seeger would have produced memorable works as did those individuals and perhaps today his name would be as familiar as those names are to the reading public.

In this region, the months of November and December have the fewest days of sunshine. Lack of sunshine affects my mood greatly, which means I have been like the weather -- gray and overcast and cold and damp -- but, your appearance here, Smareis, raises my spirit.

It is a weird and sort of wonderful coincidence that the Marine Corps birthday (November 10) and the armistice which ended World War I (November 11) are one day followed by the next on the calendar. I sometimes look for meaning in that coincidence, but, so far, cannot find it. Perhaps, it is nothing more than mere coincidence.

So, Smareis, thank you, for coming and for writing a comment for me. I hope good fortune surrounds you and those close to you .... I think of you -- every day ....

Marina Fligueira said...

Hello Fram!!

Good morning here in Spain of Spring Sun! And punishes us rain which shows no sign of quench the thirst that is happening on our land. pray and do not lose hope to get a day when peace is a fait accompli even if this seems a utopia! As we see on a daily basis that wars do not end, unlike even there are more crazy leaders who incite powerful Atomic missile destroyers of humanity.

That God take us confessed... The poem is beautiful, I love that spring in perfumed whispers where love throbs and wake up asleep silences. I have an appointment with death... At the same time it's sad, but it does not detract one iota of beauty. An immense pleasure, has been pass through this virtual home and read. I leave you my gratitude my esteem. A kiss. Have a happy day.
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¡Hola Fram!!!

¡Muy buenos días por aquí en España de sol primaveral! Y nos castiga la lluvia que no da señales de aplacar la sed que está pasando nuestra tierra.

¡Oremos y no perdamos la esperanza de que llegue un día en que la paz sea un hecho consumado aunque esto parezca una utopía! Tal como vemos a diario que las guerras no terminar, al contrario aún hay más mandatarios locos que incitan con potentes misiles atómicos destructores de la humanidad. Que Dios nos coja confesados…

Es bellísimo el poema, me encanta eso de la primavera en susurros perfumados donde el amor palpita y despierta silencios dormidos.
Tengo una cita con la muerte… Al mismo tiempo es triste, mas no le quita un ápice de belleza.
Ha sido un inmenso placer, pasar por esta tu casa virtual y leerte.
Te dejo mi gratitud mi estima. Un besito.
Ten un feliz día

Fram Actual said...

From what I have seen of humankind during my life, I cannot envision a world without despots, dictators and power mongers existing in and ranging from the most menial occupations to the highest government offices at any point in the foreseeable future. I am sorry to say this, but it is what I think ....

Among the books written by journalist turned author, Douglas Preston, is one entitled the, "Monster of Florence," about a serial killer in Florence, Italy. In it is this sentence: "We all have a Monster within; the difference is in degree, not in kind." That pretty much explains my point of view, as well, and is the basis for my thought that we each have a portion of good and evil within us which are battling for control of us.

It would seem, Marina, you are more confident than I that good eventually will defeat evil. I hope you are correct. It would be a splendid thing.

When I was a teenager and a young man, October was my favorite month because it was hunting season and football season, and I was in love with both; now, I have not hunted for a few decades and football has become passé and winter follows October all too closely. So, May and June have become my favored months because of the reasons you cite .... they are the time of the year in the northern hemisphere which issue in new life and rebirth.

I am glad you enjoyed my post and I hope you will continue to visit me here and to write your thoughts about my thoughts .... take care, Marina ....

Something special ....