Poem: Trees

(an expression of admiration and appreciation for trees)


by Sergeant 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 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.

A Short Biography Regarding Joyce Kilmer

Alfred Joyce Kilmer (December 6, 1886–July 30, 1918) was an American journalist, 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 titled, "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.

As a sergeant in the 165th U.S. Infantry Regiment, Kilmer died at the Second Battle of Marne, France, in 1918 at the age of 31.

Additional poems are listed at this Poems: Index.