In the summer evening’s stillness under the calm of the the sickle moon Evensong is softly sung. The gentle breeze catching only the occasional sigh On the evening’s air. The hope of summer rests in the gently rolling hills, the golden sheaves of garnered corn and the lushness of the blackberries in the hedgerows. With solemn seriousness Nature sighs and as the evening cools the silence of the scene is pierced occasionally by God’s evening hymn.
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.
Notes: (From Wikipedia):
Joyce Kilmer (born as Alfred Joyce Kilmer; December 6, 1886 – July 30, 1918) was an American writer and poet mainly remembered for a short poem titled “Trees” (1913), which was published in the collection Trees and Other Poems in 1914. Though a prolific poet whose works celebrated the common beauty of the natural world as well as his Roman Catholic religious faith, Kilmer was also a journalist, literary critic, lecturer, and editor. While most of his works are largely unknown, a select few of his poems remain popular and are published frequently in anthologies. Several critics—including both Kilmer’s contemporaries and modern scholars—have disparaged Kilmer’s work as being too simple and overly sentimental, and suggested that his style was far too traditional, even archaic. Many writers, including notably Ogden Nash, have parodied Kilmer’s work and style—as attested by the many parodies of “Trees”.
At the time of his deployment to Europe during World War I, Kilmer was considered the leading American Roman Catholic poet and lecturer of his generation, whom critics often compared to British contemporaries G.K.Chesterton (1874–1936) and Hilaire Belloc (1870–1953). He enlisted in the New York National Guard and was deployed to France with the 69th Infantry regiment (the famous “Fighting 69th”) in 1917. He was killed by a sniper’s bullet at the Second Battle of the Marne in 1918 at the age of 31. He was married to Aline Murray, also an accomplished poet and author, with whom he had five children.
John Clare (1793 – 1864) was an English poet. Born in Northamptonshire, he was the son of a farm labourer, who became known for his celebrations of the English countryside and for regularly expressing sorrows at its disruption. His poetry underwent major re-evaluation in the late 20th century and he is now often seen as one of the important 19th-century poets. His biographer, Jonathan Bate, states that Clare was “the greatest labouring-class poet that England has ever produced. No one has ever written more powerfully of nature, of a rural childhood, and of the alienated and unstable self.” Many of his poems are filled with a joy he experienced in nature and the countryside. Sadly, however, for the last 25 years of his life Clare suffered from mental illness and was incarcerated in a mental institution. In this wistful soul-searching poem, described by some as “one of the greatest poems of sheer despair ever written”, Clare spills out his desolation and detachment from a life which he would dearly love to have lived . . .
‘I AM’ . . . by John Clare
I AM! yet what I am who cares, or knows? My friends forsake me, like a memory lost. I am the self-consumer of my woes, They rise and vanish, an oblivious host, Shadows of life, whose very soul is lost. 5 And yet I am—I live—though I am toss’d. Into the nothingness of scorn and noise, Into the living sea of waking dream, Where there is neither sense of life, nor joys, But the huge shipwreck of my own esteem 10 And all that’s dear. Even those I loved the best Are strange—nay, they are stranger than the rest. I long for scenes where man has never trod— For scenes where woman never smiled or wept— There to abide with my Creator, God, 15 And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept, Full of high thoughts, unborn. So let me lie, The grass below; above, the vaulted sky.