Friday, November 22, 2013

For John F. Kennedy: "I Have a Rendezvous with Death"

Photo via PBS.
On this 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination, here's a look at one of his favorite poems.

According to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, one of his favorite poems was "I Have a Rendezvous with Death," by Alan Seeger. Seeger was an American poet and soldier in the first World War who died at the battle of Belloy-en-Santerre in 1916. 

Kennedy often asked his wife to recite this poem to him. 

I Have a Rendezvous with Death

by Alan Seeger

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.

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