Born: De­cem­ber 6, 1886, New Bruns­wick, New Jer­sey.

Died: Ju­ly 30, 1918, Se­ringes-et-Nesles, Pi­car­die, France.

Buried: Elm­wood Ce­me­tery, New Bruns­wick, New Jer­sey.



Joyce was the son of Fred­er­ick Bar­nett Kil­mer and An­nie Ell­en Kil­burn, and hus­band of Al­ine Mur­ray, a po­et like him­self, with whom he had five child­ren.

He was ed­u­cat­ed at Rut­gers Col­lege and Co­lum­bia Un­i­ver­si­ty (gra­du­at­ed 1908).

From 1909–12, he was on the staff of Funk and Wag­nalls Pub­lish­ing in New York Ci­ty, work­ing on The Stand­ard Dic­tion­a­ry.

He was al­so a li­ter­a­ry ed­it­or for The Church­man, and wrote for the New York Times Sun­day Ma­ga­zine.

In World War I, Kil­mer en­list­ed in the New York Na­tion­al Guard and de­ployed to France with the 69th In­fan­try Re­gi­ment in 1917. He was killed by a sni­per’s bul­let at the Se­cond Bat­tle of the Marne.


Kilmer is best re­mem­bered for his 1913 po­em Trees, pub­lished in Trees and Oth­er Poe­ms, 1914.



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.

Joyce Kilmer, 1913