English Poem “Maktoob” of poet Alan Seeger complete poem with summery for Students.


Alan Seeger

A shell surprised our post one day

And killed a comrade at my side.

My heart was sick to see the way

He suffered as he died.

I dug about the place he fell,

And found, no bigger than my thumb,

A fragment of the splintered shell

In warm aluminum.

I melted it, and made a mould,

And poured it in the opening,

And worked it, when the cast was cold,

Into a shapely ring.

And when my ring was smooth and bright,

Holding it on a rounded stick,

For seal, I bade a Turco write

Maktoob in Arabic.

Maktoob! ‘Tis written! . . . So they think,

These children of the desert, who

From its immense expanses drink

Some of its grandeur too.

Within the book of Destiny,

Whose leaves are time, whose cover, space,

The day when you shall cease to be,

The hour, the mode, the place,

Are marked, they say; and you shall not

By taking thought or using wit

Alter that certain fate one jot,

Postpone or conjure it.

Learn to drive fear, then, from your heart.

If you must perish, know, O man,

‘Tis an inevitable part

Of the predestined plan.

And, seeing that through the ebon door

Once only you may pass, and meet

Of those that have gone through before

The mighty, the elite — —

Guard that not bowed nor blanched with fear

You enter, but serene, erect,

As you would wish most to appear

To those you most respect.

So die as though your funeral

Ushered you through the doors that led

Into a stately banquet hall

Where heroes banqueted;

And it shall all depend therein

Whether you come as slave or lord,

If they acclaim you as their kin

Or spurn you from their board.

So, when the order comes: Attack!

And the assaulting wave deploys,

And the heart trembles to look back

On life and all its joys;

Or in a ditch that they seem near

To find, and round your shallow trough

Drop the big shells that you can hear

Coming a half mile off;

When, not to hear, some try to talk,

And some to clean their guns, or sing,

And some dig deeper in the chalk — –

I look upon my ring:

And nerves relax that were most tense,

And Death comes whistling down unheard,

As I consider all the sense

Held in that mystic word.

And it brings, quieting like balm

My heart whose flutterings have ceased,

The resignation and the calm

And wisdom of the East.”

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