I Have a Rendezvous With Death – Alan Seeger

Alan Seeger was born in New York City on June 22, 1888. After joining the French Foreign Legion in 1914, Seeger was killed in action in northern France on July 4, 1916. 


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.

Preserved

To a man of nobility, of wealth and fame
The beauty from a far off kingdom, came

With charm and grace, her lord enchanted
The seeds of love’s compulsion planted

He sought to win her favor day and night
She refused his advances, try as he might

Bestowed upon her diamonds, rubies, pearls
But nothing moved the heart of the obstinate girl

But her resistance only stoked his fires
Finally unable to restrain his desires

He devised and schemed to spirit her away
Prepared a hidden tower for her to stay

But his passion was fierce and he lost control
In his fevered frenzy, her life he stole

Despair and grief, keening ragged breath
He determined to possess her e’en in death

So her blood he drained, replaced with wax
Laid on furs, draped in silk, sealed ‘neath glass

And thus he conferred upon her immortality
That he might preserve her for all eternity

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This poem was inspired by this illustration by Harry Clarke for ‘Morella’ by Edgar Allen Poe in Tales of Mystery and Imagination. And partially by the short story Miss Henrietta Stralson by the infamous Marquis de Sade. 

Anti Requiem

Speaking in hushed tones,
About things no one cares about.
Platitudes and cliches:
“There, there, by and by”

Covering up the ugliness,
With half truths and exaggeration.
Rewriting history, erasing memory…
“Be at peace, peace be with you”

Droning voices and incense,
The rituals and traditions,
Offer the bereaved no comfort.
“Dona eis requiem. Amen”

In a box lined with silk,
And into a whitewashed grave,
We commit our “beloved”
For whom we gather here together.

But whose rottenness is more,
Than decomposing flesh,
It runs completely to the bones.
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

Header Image: detail form Garden of Earthly Delights: Hieronymus Bosch; The Gates of Hell

A poem for Tanya…