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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.

At the Tomb of Napoleon Before the Elections in America—November, 1912

I stood beside his sepulchre whose fame,
Hurled over Europe once on bolt and blast,
Now glows far off as storm-clouds overpast
Glow in the sunset flushed with glorious flame.
Has nature marred his mould? Can Art acclaim
No hero now, no man with whom men side
As with their hearts’ high needs personified?
There are will say, One such our lips could name;
Columbia gave him birth. Him Genius most
Gifted to rule. Against the world’s great man
Lift their low calumny and sneering cries
The Pharisaïc multitude, the host
of piddling slanderers whose little eyes
Know not what greatness is and never can.

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

We first saw fire on the tragic slopes 
     Where the flood-tide of France's early gain, 
Big with wrecked promise and abandoned hopes, 
     Broke in a surf of blood along the Aisne. 

The charge her heroes left us, we assumed, 
     What, dying, they reconquered, we preserved, 

poem

(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,
When—with sweet flowers of our New England May
Hiding the lichened stones by fifty years made gray—

poem

                                    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