TREES by Joyce Kilmer


by Joyce Kilmer (1913)

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.

Alfred Joyce Kilmer (Born December 1886 New Jersey (USA). Killed in action July 1918 (aged 31) in France) was an American jounalist, poet, literary critic lecturer and editor. Though a prolific poet whose works celebrated the common beauty of the natural world as well as his religious faith, Kilmer is remembered most for a short poem entitled “Trees” (1913), which was published in the collection Trees and Other Poems in 1914. While most of his works are unknown, a select few of his poems remain popular and are published frequently in anthologies.

Several critics, both Kilmer’s contemporaries and modern scholars, disparaged Kilmer’s work as being too simple, overly sentimental, and suggested that his style was far too traditional, even archaic.

Sgt.Alfred Joyce Kilmer, as a member of the 165th Infantry Regiment, circa 1918.


About dearrosie

We think we need so much, when all we really need is time to breathe. Come walk with me, put one foot in front of the other, and get to know yourself. Please click the link to my blog - below - and leave me a comment. I love visitors.
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3 Responses to TREES by Joyce Kilmer

  1. Edith says:

    Lovely. This will be read/heard as inspiration at TreePeople soon!

  2. Do you know if it would be alright for me to use the poem “Trees” in a book that I’m self-publishing about getting out in nature where you can have a conversation with God? I’m not planning to make any money on the book, I just want to have the message of the book to be affordable.

    • dearrosie says:

      Anything published in the U.S. before 1923 is in the public domain and one can use it without permission from the publisher. “Trees” was written in 1913 so I imagine its OK to use. But I’m not the publisher of the poem.

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