Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 303
"I Have a Rendezvous with Death" is a somber, morose poem by Alan Seeger that details the poet's impending meeting with Death. Seeger uses the poet as a daunting, potential eulogy for himself, previewing his own fear that he may die soon, likely during his service in World War I.
The short poem begins with a description of his impending rendezvous with Death, taking place sometime in the spring, while the flowers are in blossom and, it would seem, joy and life are springing eternal. However, Seeger states that he can't avoid or escape his date—he must meet with Death and see what becomes of this rendezvous. The poet is expressing a clear fear of his service in the war, as he makes it very obvious that he expects death is an entirely likely outcome of his meeting. There is, however, some hope, as he muses that he might, in fact, pass Death by and continue on, but he will likely be taken, his eyes shut, and his breath quenched by Death itself.
The poem is somber and heart-wrenching, particularly in light of its prescient nature, as Seeger did, in fact, die during the war in 1916. He speaks about how much better it is to be in comfort and admiring the beauty and life that comes with spring and to feel love's throb as you fall to sleep, but he won't have that opportunity. Instead, he says, he has to make his rendezvous with Death; it is inescapable and unavoidable.
His finality at the end of the poem shows his resolve as he chooses to walk calmly towards impending doom, throwing himself into the war in spite of the obvious risk. He takes his meeting with Death and refuses to escape it, and, unfortunately, he lays his life down in the end.