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Trees

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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.

Source: Poetry (Poetry)

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This poem originally appeared in the August 1913 issue of Poetry magazine

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Trees

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  • Journalist and poet Joyce Kilmer was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1886. Known for poetry that celebrated the common beauty of the natural world as well as his religious faith, he was killed after enlisting in the United States Army during World War I. Kilmer was awarded by the French the prestigious Croix de Guerre (War Cross) for his bravery, and a section of National Forest in North Carolina is named after him.

    After graduating from Rutgers College and Columbia University, Kilmer served as the literary editor for the religious newspaper The Churchman, and later, was on staff at the New York Times. Best known for his poem “Trees,” published in 1914, Kilmer enlisted in the New York National Guard in 1917 when the United States entered World War I. As a family man, he was not required to join the services. Instead, he requested—and received—a transfer to the...

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