Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Trees Poem

wooden postcard, 3/16" thick

A famous Trees poem , which has been widely reproduced, is printed on this wooden postcard:
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.

The Trees poem was written by Joyce Kilmer in 1913. Joyce is usually a woman's name, and I pictured Joyce Kilmer as a middle-aged woman. However, Joyce Kilmer was actually a young man, who died a few years later during World War I.

The poem was later set to music and has been recorded by a number of artists, including the Platters.who recorded it in 1961.

This postcard was mailed from Tennessee in September, 1942 with the following message on the back:

How does it feel to be back on the job again?
Happy that Minn won again. Hope they beat Bierman's Cadets.
We spent all day hiking in the Smokies — very beautiful.

"Minn" refers to the University of Minnesota and "the Smokies" refers to The Great Smoky Mountains, a mountain range along the Tennessee-North Carolina border in the southeastern United States.

I was really puzzled by the reference to "Bierman's Cadets."  Bernie Bierman was a famous University of Minnesota Gophers football coach, so I didn't understand how Minnesota could beat his "Cadets."  I discovered that Bierman was the University of Minnesota football coach from  1932 to 1941 and from 1945 to 1950, but during World War II he served in the Armed Forces. In 1942, he was the coach of the Iowa Pre-Flight Cadets..The Iowa Pre-Flight Seahawks represented the U.S. Navy pre-flight school at the University of Iowa in the college football seasons of 1942, 1943, and 1944.

I found a reference to the Minn vs. Iowa Cadets game in a Tulane University football program: "Picking anyone over the Gophers seems odd. It's a case of the teacher outsmarting the student. A shaky vote for Bernie Bierman's Cadets over his former team." The game was played on October 3 , and the Iowa Cadets beat the Minnesota Gophers 7-6.

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  1. A lovely interpretation of this week's prompt. I remember the poem from a long time ago and it was good to see and read it again. Thank you.

  2. Good sleuthing! Just goes to show a good coach can do his/her job wherever. The 2-time championship coach of our local Bobby Sox softball team moved and when he applied to coach girls in the new town, was given a team composed of players none of the other coaches wanted on their teams. Okay. He coached those poor girls to that year's championship making him a 3-time back-to-back-back championship coach! Ha!!!

  3. Thanks for that poem. I only knew the first two lines but will try and learn more now.

  4. About a year ago I hiked Joyce Kilmer National Forest, where the largest and oldest trees in North Carolina are's also in the same Appalachian Mountain chain as the Great Smoky Mountains. I think I should have done it before I hit my 70s...though it's not very strenuous, but for me it was tough to get to the best poplar trees. Also, when I was in high school, our choir attempted to sing a version of "Trees" by Mr. Kilmer. I don't think we did that well.

  5. Like Jo, I was familiar with the poem but now will try and add it to my own ‘collection'. That Platters version was quite dramatic too!

  6. Why oh why would they name their team the Gophers? That is so strange. And you came up with the poem I was thinking of but couldn't remember how it all went or who wrote it. Thank you for stopping me from hitting my head against my keyboard.

  7. Didn't everyone have to memorize that poem in school?


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