Alan Seeger and Anna de Noailles

April 17, 2010 at 6:00 pm (Poetry)

Roger Hunt Carroll hazards the guess that “Alan Seeger was the first American poet to name Anna de Noailles in connection with his verse and I am the second.”  I am indebted to him for sending me the following poem.

Written on the fly-leaf of a volume of poems by Anna de Noailles

Be my companion under cool arcades
That frame some drowsy street and dazzling square
Beyond whose flowers and palm-tree promenades
White belfries burn in the blue tropic air.
Lie near me in dim forests where the croon
Of wood-doves sounds and moss-banked water flows,
Or musing late till the midsummer moon
Breaks through some ruined abbey’s empty rose.
Sweetest of those to-day whose pious hands
Tend the sequestered altar of Romance,
Where fewer offerings burn, and fewer kneel,
Pour there your passionate beauty on my heart,
And, gladdening such solitudes, impart
How sweet the fellowship of those who feel!

Alan Seeger

“Alan Seeger joined the French Foreign Legion and died (aged 28) in battle before the USA actually entered the war.
The only volume of his poems came out after his death, in 1917 or so.  It seems that while he was living in Paris before joining the Legion, he moved in Latin Quarter circles and also had some links with high society. Whether Alan Seeger ever met Anna de Noailles [who was an admired society beauty and woman of letters at the time] is not known, at least by me, but he might have done because of  his connections in Paris.  His family was well to do and he had been at Harvard as classmate to some other American poets who became more than curiosities [e.g. T.S. Eliot].  A rather exotic boy who would have been enchanted with the rather exotic Anna de Noailles… everybody was.  His nephew is  Pete Seeger of American folk music fame.”    (Roger Hunt Carroll)

Many thanks to my American correspondent for this !           Sebastian Hayes


2 Comments

  1. David Richardson said,

    Thank you for your blog. Anna de Noailles needs the critical love and attention you give her. Your post about Alan Seeger’s connection to her is very interesting. You and Mr. Carroll will surely be happy to know , that Alan’s nephew Pete Seeger is alive and well.
    ~David Richardson

  2. Roger Hunt Carroll said,

    Thank you, Mr. Richardson.

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