‘…of a Vow fulfilled.’ July 4th, the Poetic Life of Alan Seeger.

Quinten Rhea reading Alan Seeger Poems

Quinten Rhea reading Alan Seeger Poems for a Radio Special dedicated to the Heroic Poetic Life of Alan Seeger

~‘of a Vow Fulfilled ‘   I just put the finishing touches on a New Radio special on the all-too-brief but beautifully Poetic Life of an American Hero and Poet, Alan Seeger. 

  July 4th is when everyone is feeling patriotic in America.  For me It will always be a date forever tinged with some somber feelings as well.  Democracy is a Universal Ideal.  America does not own the rights to Democracy.  All countries can claim the rights to Democracy.  It is an ideal, a birthright instilled in us regardless of our environment.  It is a Human Right, and when it is threatened and imperiled, Souls rise up to defend its honor and freedom regardless of the personal cost and sacrifice.  It takes an even greater, and perhaps more compassionate soul to Volunteer to defend Democracy for a Foreign Country.  Alan Seeger was such a Soul.  Al was an American, who loved America, but also fell in Love with Paris, France.  It offered him the Passionate, Romantic, Artistic environment he craved.  When She was in peril and threatened with annihilation he felt it his personal responsibility to defend her honor and liberty. ‘It is the Payment of the debt we owe’   He was a true Romantic indeed.

Alan enlisted in the American Foreign Legion to fight for France.  The wheels of fate, and the gears of war were already turning.  Alan endured some of the most intense hardships that can befall a soldier.  Trench warfare is perhaps the most depriving experience a soldier can face, with cold, dampness, hunger and discomfort as constant companions.  But Alan embraced it all, and through it all, at the core of his being he is a Poet, and a true Romantic Poet.  He shared Life’s joys and in no less its sorrows and embraced it all, a vivid and virile soul.

Alan had a M.S. of some Poetry what he called his ‘Juvenilia’ Poetry which he had hoped to publish before the outbreak of the war, but left them in the keeping of a printer.   A lot can be gleaned from his personal letters home which he wrote from the trenches.  Even in this horrible nightmare of an environment, Alan’s Poetic Spirit comes through as we hear him describe the countryside of France and the emotions of war under the infinite universe.  Even before the war he had written very poignant and haunting pieces about war that almost seem to foretell his own experience in some creative clairvoyance; he perhaps wrote his own best epitaph…’that blessed Pilgrim of a Vow fulfilled’.

I am forever moved and indebted to Alan Seeger and I am thankful his writings and Poetry survived, and in that Alan Seeger will forever live on in our Hearts.  I hope in some small way the small special I produced in his honor does his memory justice and engages and moves people as it does me.     I composed that Piano piece a few years ago out of an outpouring  my own sorrow and emotions upon the keys.    I didn’t have a place for the recording, until now.
This most amazing engaging and Emotive pieces of Artistic Audio came together Beautifully; thanks in no small part to the good graces of Misty.  She read a Poem by Alan Seeger called ‘Bellinglise’.  It is the gem in the center of a moving and fitting tribute to such a Poetic Soul.  I think it is a truly Beautiful piece.  Also, it is amazing how the Piano composition, which I created 2 years ago, seems to have been made expressly for the project. It is uncanny how it fits. When there are transitions in the Reading it is met w/ a transition in the Music… and the ending? how did that work out?  It seemed to be timed and colored just perfectly, providing a Haunting background for the beautiful words, and Poetry of Alan Seeger.

Thank goodness for Digital Audio editing software because his work hits me right in the throat, my eyes well up, and I have trouble reading at times,  I can’t help it, it is That powerful.  This is not a weakness, but a strength.  Real Men feel, we engage it, welcome it and do not shrink from it.  Emotional Connections; it is what’s real.   This is the amazing beauty that enthralled me with the Creative process. I have to believe there is some subtle magick at work in the background. It is comparable to what religious people, I guess, would call the holy spirit or religious experience. Creativity for me is one of the few ways of engaging what they’d call religious experience, for someone whose whole religion beauty is.  I guess, in a way, Creativity, the Arts, communicating, relating to each other, Beauty, Sadness, Passion, Empathy and  conveying feelings are perhaps the closest thing I can have to a religion.

Our bodies the temples; Our Hearts, the Altar with which we make offerings to each other.  Love, the Language.  Lust, the Sacrament. Art…. our Recompense.

my 'Maktoob' ring inspired by the Poetry of Alan Seeger Photo by Quinten Rhea

‘Maktoob…’ Poems by Alan Seeger. Summer Solstice Sunset 6/22/13

This is a photo of My Alan Seeger book that is well-worn and goes most everywhere with me.  The Ring I made was inspired by Alan’s Poem ‘Maktoob’  You can read my Article about it here ~> the Word made Manifest  http://wp.me/p2cmwX-65

When you have 22 minutes of Quiet, uninterrupted time, listen to the genius of Alan Seeger as set to the Instrumental Piano composition I created years ago.







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 Chateau.
Through shady groves and fields of unmown grass,
It was my joy to come at dusk and see,
Filling a little pond’s untroubled glass,
Its antique towers and mouldering masonry.
Oh, should I fall to-morrow, lay me here,
That o’er my tomb, with each reviving year,
Wood-flowers may blossom and the wood-doves croon;
And lovers by that unrecorded place,
Passing, may pause, and cling a little space,
Close-bosomed, at the rising of the moon.


Here, where in happier times the huntsman’s horn
Echoing from far made sweet midsummer eves,
Now serried cannon thunder night and morn,
Tearing with iron the greenwood’s tender leaves.
Yet has sweet Spring no particle withdrawn
Of her old bounty; still the song-birds hail,
Even through our fusillade, delightful Dawn;
Even in our wire bloom lilies of the vale.
You who love flowers, take these; their fragile bells
Have trembled with the shock of volleyed shells,
And in black nights when stealthy foes advance
They have been lit by the pale rockets’ glow
That o’er scarred fields and ancient towns laid low
Trace in white fire the brave frontiers of France.


Summer Solstice Sunset

Summer Solstice Sunset photo by Quinten Rhea

and this  Poetry, enclosed in a letter to his Morraine, Mrs. Weeks, on the day before his 28th birthday, would be his last.

– Sonnet XII –

Clouds rosy-tinted in the setting sun,
Depths of the azure eastern sky between,
Plains where the poplar-bordered highways run,
Patched with a hundred tints of brown and green, —
Beauty of Earth, when in thy harmonies
The cannon’s note has ceased to be a part,
I shall return once more and bring to these
The worship of an undivided heart.
Of those sweet potentialities that wait
For my heart’s deep desire to fecundate
I shall resume the search, if Fortune grants;
And the great cities of the world shall yet
Be golden frames for me in which to set
New masterpieces of more rare romance.~ Alan Seeger

Venus & Saturn Photo by Quinten Rhea

The Soldier rests. Now round him undismayed,
The cannons Thunder and at Night He lies
at Peace beneath Eternal Fusillade..
That other Generations might Possess-From shame and menace Free for years to come-
a richer heritage of Happiness,
He Marched to that Heroic Martyrdom.

Ever the optimist, He had hoped for better days after the war.   He never got the chance to enjoy the hard-fought victory with his comrades, or create a new Masterpiece and Romance. This loss to the world is incalculable, for he undoubtedly would have created ever more poignant beauty in reflection from his new vantage point.  But his brief Life was a Romantic Masterpiece, he lived it and wrote it, for that we can be grateful at least.

‘Poems’ by Alan Seeger  {made available courtesy of the Gutenberg Project }~ {http://archive.org/stream/poems01seeg#page/n0/mode/2up

Alan Seeger’s Diary/Journal.  {available for Free at the online Archives} ~ http://archive.org/stream/lettersanddiary00seeggoog

I encourage you to really spend some time, as in a few days, nights and weeks reading and absorbing the vast swathe of beauty Alan left in his wake.  Walk in his memory, let his words and thoughts be like Flowers at your feet.

If you are interested I have written two other Press articles on Alan Seeger ~
‘The Written Word made Manifest..’ Inspired by Alan Seeger’s Poem ‘Maktoob’ I actually Cast the ring he so eloquently speaks of in the Poem. It is about Art made Real. H
an Article I did for Decorations Day in Paris. Alan was to read his Beautifully emotive and poignant passage ‘Ode in Memory of the American Volunteers Fallen for France’ on May 30, 1916. He was to be on leave for the event at the Statue of Washington and Lafayette in Paris. His leave orders were delayed and he was still in the war trenches on that day.

Feel free to contact me and leave critiques, comments, recommendations and engage discussion of Alan Seeger and Poetry in general:

Audio  of the Poetry by Alan Seeger, with Piano composition by Quinten Rhea ~>

https://archive.org/details/CopyEditAlanSeegerLivingPoetTree https://archive.org/details/CopyEditAlanSeegerLivingPoetTree

Stay inspired my Friends!



2 thoughts on “‘…of a Vow fulfilled.’ July 4th, the Poetic Life of Alan Seeger.

  1. Pingback: The Poetic Life of Alan Seeger | Writing on the Air

  2. Pingback: ‘…of a Vow fulfilled.’ July 4th, the Poetic Life of Alan Seeger. « Adiablanca

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