This Day in Literary History – February 2, 1913: American Poet Joyce Kilmer Writes His Most Famous Poem, ‘Trees’

On this day in literary history in 1913, American poet Joyce Kilmer wrote his famous poem “Trees.” Joyce Kilmer was an American poet born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, in 1886. He graduated from Columbia University and began his career as a writer and journalist. In 1913, he published his most famous poem, “Trees,” which was an ode to the beauty of nature.

Kilmer was an active member of the Roman Catholic church and had a deep faith in God. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917 and served during World War I. After doing stints of literary work for newspapers, magazines, and the publishing house Doubleday – he became the assistant editor of The Churchman in 1912 before joining the Army during World War I and being killed in action by a sniper’s bullet in 1918. He was only 31.

Kilmer’s poetry was much more expansive than that one work of “Trees.” He wrote several other famous works, such as “Spring” and “Rouge Bouquet,” which also explored themes of nature and love. He is also credited with helping to establish the Imagist movement, which focused on using minimal words to create vivid imagery for readers. His legacy remains today as he is remembered for his unique blend of traditional and modern styles and his passionate devotion to his faith.

Kilmer was a prolific poet, but he also worked as a journalist, lecturer, literary critic, and editor. Before his deployment to Europe during WWI, he was considered his generation’s leading American Catholic poet and lecturer. He was often compared to British contemporaries like G.K. Chesterton. Most his Kilmer’s works are unknown today, though a few of his poems remain popular and are included in anthologies. Not everyone was fond of Kilmer, though. Many critics back then and today have dismissed his work as being too simplistic and overly sentimental.

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