American poet Alan Seeger was born on 22 June 1888 and passed away on 4th July 1916. He authored the verse “I Have a Rendezvous with Death ” in 1916 amid World War 1. Seeger originated from New York City and was a member of the expat literary community in Paris before enlisting in the French Foreign Legion in 1914. He died in action on July 4, 1916, during the Battle of the Somme, at the age of 28. Seeger’s poems demonstrate his fascination with demise and his ideological belief in the splendour of self-sacrifice for a greater cause.
The poem “I Have a Rendezvous with Death” is regarded as one of Seeger’s most prominent works regarding funeral poems for brothers. Brothers referring to fellow soldiers who have served their country. The poem’s haunting imagery and prophetic tone have made it a favoured option for readings at funerals and memorials. Notable figures who have used the poem include President John F. Kennedy, who cited the closing lines in a speech honouring the poet Robert Frost, and General George S. Patton, who carried a copy of the poem during World War II.
I Have a Rendezvous with Death
The verse speaks of the speaker’s acceptance of their destiny and their willingness to meet death on their conditions. The imagery of a “rendezvous” with death indicates a deliberate, even romantic, encounter between the speaker and their fate. The poem’s final lines, “And I to my pledged word am true, / I shall not fail that rendezvous,” hold powerful significance. This poem could be considered one of the best funeral poems for brothers among those who seek to honour the bravery and sacrifice of those who have died in service to their country.
“I Have a Rendezvous with Death” a Poem 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.
For more poem inspiration visit the Save Funeral Costs blog of funeral poems.