I Have a Rendezvous with Death

Seeger, Alan

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry
Secondary Category: Literature /

Genre: Poetry

Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn
  • Date of entry: Feb-12-2018
  • Last revised: Feb-12-2018


A short war poem of 24 lines in three verses, in the voice of a soldier who expects to die, “at some disputed barricade” in the spring, when “apple blossoms fill the air.”


Composed in 1914 or 1915, this poem is a lament for the tragic waste of youth, love, and beauty wrought by senseless war, which the dutiful soldier must accept. Like the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” by Canadian physician, John McCrae, its poignant message is sadly reinforced by its accurate prediction of the poet’s death.  

Seeger was born in New York City and educated in literature and medieval history at Harvard, where he knew classmates, T. S. Eliot, and Walter Lippman. A writer and editor, Seeger loved France and joined the French Foreign Legion at the opening of hostilities. He was killed in World War I action at the Somme in July 1916. This, his most famous poem was published posthumously; according to some, it became an instant “classic.”  

Collections of Seeger’s poetry soon appeared in both English and French; however, they were criticized, almost immediately, for being old fashioned in their solemn style and chivalric sentiment. Nevertheless, this poem is said to have been a favorite of President John F. Kennedy, a connection that is intimately bound up with its fortunes post-1963.  

Seeger was the brother of Charles Seeger, a noted ethnomusicologist and founder of the American Musicological Society. His nephew was folk singer and activist, Peter Seeger (1919-2014).  


A “virtual video” with a not-very-successful, talking still photo of Alan Seeger and the poem read by his famous nephew Pete Seeger is at youtube, uploaded by Jim Clark 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y11RGjmZRDc

Primary Source

Poems by Alan Seeger


Chadwyck-Healey Inc.

Place Published

Alexandria, VA



Secondary Source