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)