Wallace Stevens – The Death of a Soldier (1931)

On this Armistice Day, which marks the end of World War I, and writ larger, the supreme sacrifices made by soldiers of all nations, here is “The Death of a Soldier” by the incredibly-visionary-and-way-ahead-of-his-time poet Wallace Stevens, a poem which extends even wider to the more generalized, dissonant fact each of us faces: namely, the inevitability of our eventual death:

Life contracts and death is expected,
As in a season of autumn.
The soldier falls.

He does not become a three-days’ personage,
Imposing his separation,
Calling for pomp.

Death is absolute and without memorial,
As in a season of autumn,
When the wind stops.

When the wind stops and, over the heavens,
The clouds go, nevertheless,
In their direction.

— Wallace Stevens, “The Death of a Soldier” (1931)

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