Saturday, March 1, 2014

I Think That I Shall Never See

A poem lovely as a tree.

Ever since I can remember I have been attracted to the beauty of a tree once the leaves have fallen and the limbs and branches are clearly able to be appreciated.

Some show their age by being gnarled and arthritic in appearance, making you wonder what their life has been like, what they have been through.

 Others are wonderfully proportioned and the only pruning and shaping they have benefited from has been that done by Mother Nature.

 When I was in elementary school it was still the done thing to have students memorize such things as poems.  I know I memorized several but the only one I can still recite was Trees by Joyce Kilmer.

It took me a few years to realized that Joyce Kilmer was a he and not a she; Alfred Joyce Kilmer in fact.  He was an American poet who wrote and lectured on the beauty of the natural world.

 He was born in 1886 and was killed in WWI by a sniper in the Second Battle of the Marne in 1918.  He was only 31 years old.

 His poem Trees, first published in 1913, is his best known poem and is still included in poetry anthologies 100 years later. And who knows, maybe some students somewhere are still given the assignment to memorize it.

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

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the 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.

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