Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Trees -Joyce Kilmer. 1886–1918

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

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's 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.

My comment on this....
Starts well.
That first couplet is great. Then...... Yawn
The rest is a big disappointment. I must read some more by Kilmer, see if that couplet was a lone flash of greatness.
Ogden Nash took it, re-used it.
And did a far better job.

Addendum: Dec 27th 2007.
I get a lot of visitors here, who have googled kilmer+tree.
So let's have a clear statement from me, unequivocal.
"I think Kilmer's verse is globally mediocre. Stop studying it, it's not worth the effort."
You Kilmer searchers never leave comments. So I suppose you agree with me.


  1. well.....i did think the second couplet had a running chance when it started out with a tree's hungry mouth prest ......... but, yes, then it fell apart............ alas.

  2. The sweet earth's flowing breast?
    A prime example of what Ogden Nash rails about in the earlier post...
    "One thing that literature would be greatly the better for
    Would be a more restricted employment by the authors of simile and metaphor."

    I'm not convinced by Kilmer.

  3. Ah, but not matter what you think about Kilmer, just how many other poets have a rest stop named after them on the turnpike?

  4. He does?
    A giant among men.
    O poet, thou art blest!

    Turnpike... Lovely word.
    It fell out of use here, except in, for instance, names of inns.
    I pass, regularly here, a place called 'Chain Bar', I wonder how many of my fellow motorists know that it takes its name from the fact that here was a chain, across the turnpike to bar passage until the toll was paid.

    I'll read more Kilmer, see if I can feel kindlier toward him.
    Poor man, his rest stop came in France, only a few months before the first world war ended.

  5. Tell me, is the rose naked
    or is that her only dress?

    Why do trees conceal
    the splendor of their roots?

    Who hears the regrets
    of the thieving automobile?

    Is there anything in the world sadder
    than a train standing in the rain?


    Many poets have done trees better than this - poor Kilmer.


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