Sunday, March 01, 2009

Do You Think That There Will Ever Be, Something As Cooling, Tall and Green As A Tree?

Color me mystified, but, according to The Writer’s Almanac, March 1st is the birthday of a completely disproportionate number of poets.

Robert Hass (Time and Materials) was born on this day in 1941 in San Francisco. (And Writer’s Almanac leaves us with this quote from Hass: “Take the time to write. You can do your life’s work in half an hour a day.” Think about it.)

Howard Nemerov (1920); Richard Wilbur (1921) and Robert Lowell (1917) were also born on this day.

Incidentally, the poem I’ve made a hash of in the title above (one could say “paraphrased”) is by Alfred Joyce Kilmer who was, however, not born on this day. (It could also be argued that he wasn’t much of a poet, but maybe that would just be mean?)

What the heck: the poem was first published in 1913 and Kilmer died five years later, so we can run the actual poem right here for you to see for yourself (I think it’s the “prest/breast” stuff that decides it for me):


by Joyce Kilmer

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.



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