Sunday, August 15, 2010

Childhood Memory: A Poem about a Tree

Parts of childhood remain forever in the human heart.

When my sisters and I were little, my mother used to recite poetry. On the spur of the moment, she could bring to memory every line of a poem learned in her own elementary school days. That always amazed me.

One of her favorites was a poem called "Trees."  It was written by Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918).  As an adult,  it surprised me to learn that Kilmer was a man.  His full name was Alfred Joyce Kilmer.

His poem on trees made a lasting impression in my mind and heart.  I was very moved when I read that Kilmer died in battle while serving in the U.S. Infantry. He was only 31 years old when he died.

The tree shown in this post must be very old. It's thick trunk is huge and gnarled. It's actually on the grounds of the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Here is Alfred Joyce Kilmer's poem on trees. As I write this, tears are filling my eyes because I can hear the intonations in my Mummy's voice as she recited this poem to us. I sure miss her presence in my life as she died four years ago. (Thanks for introducing me to this lovely poem, Mummy.)


I think that I shall never see
A poem as 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.



T's Daily Treasures said...

Hi Susan,
How lovely that you have this vivid memory of the poem being read by your mother. It certainly sounds familiar. I don't have a favorite poem, but have lots of favorite quotations.
Wishing you a beautiful day. :) Tammy

Anonymous said...

Great photos and I love this poem. I love to look at tree formations. There isone by my work with a twisted trunk, obviously two saplings must have been intertwined when they were planted. Very cool!
Linda O'Connell

Bookie said...

I have always like Kilmer's poem since I first heard it in grade school...great tree photos too.

Leann said...

What a great memory - your telling of it and your Mum's:)


Dianne said...

What a beautiful old tree and one of my favorite poems... Lovely... BTW, my brother came over yesterday and I told him about your last blog post and my comment about our grandmother working at the town florist... Tears filled my eyes as we talked about it. The last time we were in the town, we visited the florist and the woman that worked there remembered my grandmother. She let us go into the back and the work tables that my grandmother worked at were still there and in the same places... It was wonderful...

Linda @ A La Carte said...

Susan I also love this poem. How sweet to hear your Mummy's voice in you mind. I love the tree also, they are such beauties and so many stories they could tell. Have a beautiful Sunday.

Dayle said...

What a moving poem... and that tree! Magnificent!

Karen Lange said...

I do like that poem; it's been a while since I've heard it. Glad you shared it with these interesting photos!

Anonymous said...

I remembered one line in the poem as "Against the earth's sweet flowing breast." We learned it in school.
Did I remember incorrectly or is that a switched word misprint? It interrupts the wonderful flow of Mr. Kilmer's words. I feel sad to learn that he died at 31. But, I'm sincerely glad that his poem lives on to remind people of God's miracles.
Bless you for your post.
L. Cason

Chatty Crone said...

Very nice and moving poem, but I love, love, love that tree. sandie

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