I Have a Rendezvous with Death

by Alan Seeger

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Under what conditions does the poet expect to meet his death?

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The poet expects to meet his death “when Spring comes back with rustling shade.” The refrain of the poem reinforces this expectation through the use of parallelism (specifically, anaphora, which repeats the opening part of a phrase in sentences which end differently). The poet expects his death to come in battle, “at some disputed barricade” or on a “scarred slope.” The militaristic imagery contrasting with the pastoral image of Spring bringing back “blue days and fair,” is symbolic of renewal.

Death in this poem is also personified not as a cruel being, but almost as a friend who will approach the poet with gentleness to “take his hand.” The idea of a rendezvous, or planned meeting, compounds this idea. The poet seems almost to look forward to the rendezvous he vows he “shall not fail,” as if it is inevitable and anticipated. The framing of the rendezvous perhaps suggests that death represents an escape from battle, its own kind of renewal.

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