The Somme (4)

I’m giving away a copy of Joe Sacco’s The Great War, what NPR called a “panorama of devastation,” an accordian-fold book, 24 feet long, about day one of The Battle of the Somme. Scroll down to enter.

Today is the centenary of the death of Alan Seeger. Seeger was an American poet, an uncle of Pete Seeger and classmate of TS Eliot, who was living in Paris when War broke out on August 4, 1914. Twenty days later, he joined the French Foreign Legion. On July 1, 1916, Seeger entered the Battle of the Somme. He died, aged 28, on the 4th of July. His final known written words, a letter to a friend before moving up to the Front, are those of a poet to his bones:

I am glad to be going in first wave. If you are in this thing at all it is best to be in to the limit. And this is the supreme experience.Gassed, by John Singer Sergeant

Better known is his poem written sometime before the Somme:

I have a rendezvous with Death

At some disputed barricade,

When Spring comes back with rustling shade

And apple-blossoms fill the air—

An Egyptian friend, Rif Baer, described Seeger’s end with an appropriately poetic final image:

He answered with a smile. How pale he was! His tall silhouette stood out on the green of the cornfield. He was the tallest man in his section. His head erect, and pride in his eye, I saw him running forward, with bayonet fixed. Soon he disappeared and that was the last time I saw my friend. . . .”

Anyone else remember the fade-out at the final moments of Black-Adder?

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Joe Sacco’s The Great War is a modern Bayeux Tapestry on paper, a detailed panorama of the first day of the Somme battle. To enter my drawing for Joe Sacco’s gorgeous and moving The Great Warpop over here before midnight Monday.


  1. Ann Hanson on July 4, 2016 at 10:52 am

    I’ll take a book!

    • Laurie King on July 4, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      Make sure you register at the link!

  2. Ann Rommel on July 4, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    If you recommend it Laurie R. King, I want it.

  3. Marilyn Miller Jaissle on July 6, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    Book sounds enlightening. I have a heightened interest after visiting the beaches at Normandy.

  4. jessicabtl on July 7, 2016 at 3:34 am

    I’ll take a book!

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