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Wine and Warriors
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This poem is a personal
favorite. Nowhere in poetry has wine
been used so poignantly and powerfully to convey the message and paint
the picture that the poet wishes to impart.
graduation from Harvard, Alan Seeger lived a bohemian lifestyle
of the young poet. His vagabond days of “wine, women, and
eventually led him to Paris. In August, 1914, young Seeger
his itinerant ways and joined the French Foreign Legion to aid the
Allies in World War I (the USA did not enter the war until
July 4, 1916, Alan Seeger died in action. He
most well known poem is titled “Rendezvous”. The opening line
this poem reads:
have a rendezvous with death.
Alan Seeger was
uncle of folk music great, Pete Seeger (b. 1919).
S. H. Bass
by Alan Seeger
ALAN SEEGER at Amazon:
BOTTLED POETRY: Verses from the Vine
VINTAGE WINE POEMS NEW PRESSINGS
vinted and bottled by Stephen H. Bass
Seeger (1888-1916), American poet
the glad revels, in the happy fetes,
When cheeks are flushed, and
glasses gilt and pearled
With the sweet wine of France that
The sunshine and the beauty of the world,
sometimes, you whose footsteps yet may tread
delightful paths of Earth,
To those whose blood, in pious duty
Hallows the soil where that same wine had birth.
by devoted comrades laid away,
Along our lines they slumber where
Beside the crater at the Ferme d'Alger
And up the
bloody slopes of La Pompelle,
And round the city whose
The enemies of Beauty dared profane,
the mat of multicolored flowers
That clothe the sunny
chalk-fields of Champagne.
Under the little crosses where
The soldier rests. Now round him undismayed
cannon thunders, and at night he lies
At peace beneath the
eternal fusillade. . . .
That other generations might possess -
From shame and menace free in years to come -
heritage of happiness,
He marched to that heroic martyrdom.
Esteeming less the forfeit that he paid
that his flag might float
Over the towers of liberty, he made
His breast the bulwark and his blood the moat.
sacrificed, his nameless tomb,
Bare of the sculptor's art, the
Summer shall flush with poppy-fields in bloom,
Autumn yellow with maturing vines.
the grape-pickers at their harvesting
Shall lightly tread and
load their wicker trays,
Blessing his memory as they toil and
In the slant sunshine of October days. . . .
to think that if my blood should be
So privileged to sink where
his has sunk,
I shall not pass from Earth entirely,
the banquet rings, when healths are drunk,
And faces that the
joys of living fill
Glow radiant with laughter and good cheer,
In beaming cups some spark of me shall still
Brim toward the
lips that once I held so dear.
So shall one coveting no
Than nature clothes in color and flesh and tone,
Even from the grave put upward to attain
The dreams youth
cherished and missed and might have known;
And that strong
need that strove unsatisfied
Toward earthly beauty in all forms
Not death itself shall utterly divide
beloved shapes it thirsted for.
Alas, how many an adept for
Life held delicious offerings perished here,
many in the prime of all that charms,
Crowned with all gifts that
conquer and endear!
Honor them not so much with tears and
But you with whom the sweet fulfillment lies,
in the anguish of atrocious hours
Turned their last thoughts and
closed their dying eyes,
Rather when music on bright
Its tender spell, and joy is uppermost,
mindful of the men they were, and raise
Your glasses to them in
one silent toast.
Drink to them - amorous of dear Earth as
They asked no tribute lovelier than this -
And in the
wine that ripened where they fell,
Oh, frame your lips as though
it were a kiss.