Alan Seeger was born in New York City and grew up in comfortable circumstances on Staten Island. His father was a businessman in the sugar refining industry, and his mother a composer. Seeger’s brother was a celebrated musicologist whose children were popular singers. He was educated at schools in New York and later at Harvard University where he was a contemporary of T. S. Eliot.
After leaving Harvard, contrary to his father’s wishes for him to pursue a business career, he lived in Greenwich Village to concentrate on becoming a poet. He later moved to Paris where he was living a somewhat bohemian existence when war was declared. Sympathetic to France’s cause, he joined the French foreign Legion. During his time in the army, he continued to write poetry, the theme of death becoming more prevalent as the war progressed and he witnessed the loss of colleagues. He was killed in action in 1916 during the battle of the Somme, after having been incorrectly reported killed in battle the previous year. He was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Medaille Militaire.
A collection of his poems was published after his death, the most famous being his premonitory poem, I Have a Rendezvous with Death....