Trees - march 3

by Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see 
A poem lovely as a tree. 

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest 
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast; 

A tree that looks at God all day, 
And lifts her leafy arms to pray; 

A tree that may in Summer wear 
A nest of robins in her hair; 

Upon whose bosom snow has lain; 
Who intimately lives with rain. 

Poems are made by fools like me, 
But only God can make a tree. 

written February 2, 1913

note: this poem is here because: it used to taught like a child’s basic prayer, or the Golden Rule - it was considered that important. Whatever you experience as “God” - nature, the human genome, the BigBang….this poem reminds us that we are part of an awesome power for beauty and for good.

The Author was educated and and pro poet; happily married with five children and converted to Catholicism when one of his daughters was stricken with polio. Tragically he died at age 31 in France during WWI….this poem , his last, was written just days before his passing. It is a favorite - helps.


Upon his will he binds a radiant chain, 
For Freedom's sake he is no longer free. 
It is his task, the slave of Liberty, 
With his own blood to wipe away a stain. 
That pain may cease, he yields his flesh to pain. 
To banish war, he must a warrior be. 
He dwells in Night, eternal Dawn to see, 
And gladly dies, abundant life to gain. 

What matters Death, if Freedom be not dead? 
No flags are fair, if Freedom's flag be furled. 
Who fights for Freedom, goes with joyful tread 
To meet the fires of Hell against him hurled, 
And has for captain Him whose thorn-wreathed head 
Smiles from the Cross upon a conquered world. 

June 14, 1918

He was well-educated and worked for top publications including the NYTimes and Funk&Wagnalls dictionary, married happily and had five children before he was thirty. When he wrote “Trees” and others of these days, they made him famous but they criticized his style.

But I love my insight into it. today, I realized that the LOTR Middle Earth author, J.R.R Tolkien, was similarly criticized for his stories for children. So, later in life when they got so popular, He simply TOLD them in so many words that he MEANT to be writing to reach his children and entertain them and teach them human basics in a wonderful way.

Tolkien and Kilmer both did Communications on the battlefield in WWI. Tolkien lived, and returned home, to marriage and grand work till very old age. But Kilmer was caught by a sniper and died in France, and so he did not live to adapt and evolve or explain to his adoring fans.

Google him…no ONE page tells it completely. Fun to browse him.