By Joyce Kilmer, author of “Trees“, as in:
I THINK that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree…
NOW is the rhymer’s honest trade
A thing for scornful laughter made.
The merchant’s sneer, the clerk’s disdain,
These are the burden of our pain.
Because of you did this befall,
You brought this shame upon us all.
You little poets mincing there
With women’s hearts and women’s hair!
How sick Dan Chaucer’s ghost must be
To hear you lisp of “Poesie”!
A heavy-handed blow, I think,
Would make your veins drip scented ink.
You strut and smirk your little while
So mildly, delicately vile!
Your tiny voices mock God’s wrath,
You snails that crawl along His path!
Why, what has God or man to do
With wet, amorphous things like you?
This thing alone you have achieved:
Because of you, it is believed
That all who earn their bread by rhyme
Are like yourselves, exuding slime.
Oh, cease to write, for very shame,
Ere all men spit upon our name!
Take up your needles, drop your pen,
And leave the poet’s craft to men!
Wow. What, or who got under his craw? [#mixedMetaphor] I understand that Kilmer’s verse fell under some criticism for its simplicity and “traditional, conservative” nature, a criticism that continues to this day, but after having forgotten about “Trees” for many decades, on my return I find it refreshingly honest in its simplicity. It also heartens me to see Kilmer striking back against his critics. Were they Free-Verse Nazis, disdaining anything with rhyme and meter, or did they object to his open love of God? Whoever they were, let’s hope they got the message and stopped leaving their slimy trails across the pages of Kilmer’s lovely verse.