Norm told me recently that Joyce Kilmer was buried at Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in the Champagne province of France.
“Who is Joyce Kilmer?” I asked.
“He’s the soldier who wrote the poem about the trees,” Norm answered.
Joyce Kilmer was a sergeant in the 165th Infantry of the 42nd Division of the U.S. Army during World War I, killed in action in France on July 30, 1918. He is buried in the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in Seringes-et-Nesles, France.
But he wasn’t just a soldier, he was a poet as well, and felt a kinship with trees that I have known my whole life. How could it have taken me this long to find him? If I have a doppelganger, then I believe that he is Joyce Kilmer.
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree
A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
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.