Trees | Moses Lake, WA | August 2019

“I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree. / 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 / Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.”

— Excerpt from “Trees” by American poet Joyce Kilmer (d. 1918). He was shot and killed in World War I at age 31.

Kilmer was (and is) often mocked for his simplistic, sentimental verses. But this poem — the first line, anyway — is lodged in most of our brains as an example of what we think poetry should be: Short, rhyming, and pointing to a larger truth.