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About this poet

Alan Seeger was born in New York City on June 22, 1888, and received a BA from Harvard University in 1910. Known for his poetic representation of the First World War, he was the author of Poems (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1916) and Letters and Diary of Alan Seeger (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1917), both published posthumously. In a review for The Egoist in 1917, T. S. Eliot wrote that Poems “is high-flown, heavily decorated and solemn, but the solemnity is thoroughgoing, not a mere literary formality.” After joining the French Foreign Legion in 1914, Seeger was killed in action in northern France on July 4, 1916.

Bellinglise

                                    I

Deep in the sloping forest that surrounds
The head of a green valley that I know,
Spread the fair gardens and ancestral grounds
Of Bellinglise, the beautiful château.
Through shady groves and fields of unmown grass,
It was my joy to come at dusk and see,
Filling a little pond’s untroubled glass,
Its antique towers and mouldering masonry.
Oh, should I fall to-morrow, lay me here,
That o’er my tomb, with each reviving year,
Wood-flowers may blossom and the wood-doves croon;
And lovers by that unrecorded place,
Passing, may pause, and cling a little space,
Close-bosomed, at the rising of the moon.

                                    II

Here, where in happier times the huntsman’s horn
Echoing from far made sweet midsummer eves,
Now serried cannon thunder night and morn,
Tearing with iron the greenwood’s tender leaves.
yet has sweet Spring no particle withdrawn
Of her old bounty; still the song-birds hail,
Even through our fusillade, delightful Dawn;
Even in our wire bloom lilies of the vale.
You who love flowers, take these; their fragile bells
Have trembled with the shock of volleyed shells,
And in black nights when stealthy foes advance
They have been lit by the pale rockets’ glow
That o’er scarred fields and ancient towns laid low
Trace in white fire the brave frontiers of France.

May 22, 1916.

 

 

This poem is in the public domain. 

This poem is in the public domain. 

Alan Seeger

Alan Seeger

Alan Seeger was born in New York City in 1888 and was killed in action in World War I in 1916. He was the author of Poems (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1916), which was published posthumously.

by this poet

poem

Exiled afar from youth and happy love,
            If Death should ravish my fond spirit hence
I have no doubt but, like a homing dove,
            It would return to its dear residence,
And through a thousand stars find out the road
Back into the earthly flesh that was its loved abode.

poem

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

poem

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