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  #41  
Old 05-09-2017, 04:31 AM
William A. Baurle William A. Baurle is offline
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I Have a Rendezvous with Death

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.

—Alan Seeger (1888–1916)
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  #42  
Old 05-09-2017, 04:58 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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That's a good poem.

Rilke, who is tremendous, was conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian army in WW I, and more or less stopped writing, suffering from bouts of depression. He'd begun the Duino Elegies in 1912, and returned to them after 1918, publishing them and the Sonnets to Orpheus in 1922-1923. The war is a backdrop to this work, but it's hard to call him a war poet. Trakl and Benn I don't know well enough.

Apollinaire is very much a war poet, and unrivaled in his art. Valery and Claudel I think did not serve.

Last edited by John Isbell; 05-09-2017 at 05:18 AM. Reason: other countries
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  #43  
Old 05-09-2017, 05:26 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Here's a Rilke sonnet translated by Stephen Mitchell:

"Archaic Torso of Apollo

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life."
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  #44  
Old 05-09-2017, 12:18 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark McDonnell View Post
Hi Sam. I agree the poem is much bigger, and the 'you' of the poem much more universal, than any feelings of personal distaste at Pope's poetry that may have prompted Owen to write it. Still, fascinating nonetheless to see how a poem that has become such an icon began with such a personal, small-scale rebuke.
With or without the targeted dedication, I'm impressed by the fact that Owen could convey his disgust at jingoism in such a way that the end of the poem feels like a generous invitation to change one's mind and heart, and confidence that the invitation would be accepted. The implication of the (rightly edited out) dedication is that Owen felt even the jingoist who inspired his disgust to be worthy of such an invitation, and capable of such change. That's why I'm delighted to learn of the dedication's existence, even though I'm glad for the poem's sake that it's no longer there.

Owen's generous attitude is one I'd like to aspire to, whether in a political poem or a political conversation. [Edited to say: Yes, my poems and posts abound with examples of my having fallen short of that attitude, but it's still aspirational.]

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 05-09-2017 at 12:57 PM. Reason: Can't leave well enough alone
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  #45  
Old 05-09-2017, 01:30 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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That's a lovely point, Julie. Exemplified, I think, by Owen's use of 'my friend' in the fourth to last line. Not a jot of irony, just a recognition of common humanity. Owen famously said 'the poetry is in the pity' and this extended (unlike with Sassoon — not that I blame him and there's room for his anger too) not just to the soldiers but, in a very Christ-like way, to everyone.
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  #46  
Old 05-09-2017, 05:44 PM
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Woody Long Woody Long is offline
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I'm glad William posted Alan Seeger's poem (Post #41 here). Seeger was killed by machine gun fire while leading troops in an attack. It's a small curiosity that Seeger and T. S. Eliot, so different in style, were contemporaries—classmates at Harvard.

See the current New York Review of Books article here regarding WWI & the arts, including some about the poets.

— Woody
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  #47  
Old 05-09-2017, 10:30 PM
William A. Baurle William A. Baurle is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woody Long View Post
I'm glad William posted Alan Seeger's poem (Post #41 here). Seeger was killed by machine gun fire while leading troops in an attack. It's a small curiosity that Seeger and T. S. Eliot, so different in style, were contemporaries—classmates at Harvard.

See the current New York Review of Books article here regarding WWI & the arts, including some about the poets.

— Woody
There were a lot of biggies surrounding Alan Seeger. His older brother was Charles Seeger, himself a notable and father of the even more notable Pete Seeger, the folk singer. When Alan was hanging out in Greenwich Village, he rubbed elbows with John Butler Yeats, father of William.

I was going to post another of Seeger's poems, figuring everyone knows the Rendezvous. But the ones I find online are either not exceptional, or not in keeping with the feel of the thread. He was proud and eager to serve (though an American by birth, he served in the French Foreign Legion, having moved to Paris as a young man) and had far more romantic views about war than his more famous contemporaries.

Well, he didn't fail that rendezvous.

I think had Seeger lived longer, he'd have written some exemplary poetry. I had a file of his complete poems I downloaded from somewhere, but have since lost it; but I do recall that some of his poems were quite excellent.

Last edited by William A. Baurle; 05-09-2017 at 10:33 PM.
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  #48  
Old 11-19-2017, 03:15 AM
Davio Wavio Davio Wavio is offline
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Default A look back at war

"CENTAUR

The story goes that when the war was won,
two men on horseback at either
side of Ypres
could see each other
stamp and blow
No stone on stone
stood taller than a rider.
Even for an eyewitness, the image pales.
The clear line between man and mount has blurred.
Now, hands cupped to its mouth,
a hybrid clips across the debris,
Crying like a shell-fall for its mate."

Michael Symmons Roberts

I have only recently come across Roberts - don't know why, but I think this is an outstanding response to the topic.
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  #49  
Old 11-19-2017, 06:39 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Good morning Davio,

And welcome! I didn't know that war poem, and I agree, it's rather good. I like "Crying like a shell-fall".

Cheers,
John
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  #50  
Old 11-19-2017, 02:05 PM
Davio Wavio Davio Wavio is offline
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Thank you for the welcome John
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