Beers, a spoof of Joyce Kilmer’s Trees (1886 – 1918)
A Poem Lovely As A Beer, by Steve Hoffman, another spoof of Joyce Kilmer’s Trees (1886 – 1918)(http://brookstonbeerbulletin.com/beer-poetry/#killjoy)
Joyce Kilmer’s Trees (1886 – 1918) (www.bartleby.com/104/119.html)
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).:p.27 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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joyce_Kilmer).
See also: Trees (poem)
Joyce Kilmer's reputation as a poet is staked largely on the widespread popularity of one poem—"Trees" (1913). It was first published in the August 1913 issue of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse which had begun publishing the year before in Chicago, Illinois and was included as the title poem in a collection of poems Trees and Other Poems (1914). According to Kilmer's oldest son, Kenton, the poem was written on February 2, 1913 when the family resided in Mahwah, New Jersey.
It was written in the afternoon in the intervals of some other writing. The desk was in an upstairs room, by a window looking down a wooded hill. It was written in a little notebook in which his father and mother wrote out copies of several of their poems, and, in most cases, added the date of composition. On one page the first two lines of 'Trees' appear, with the date, February 2, 1913, and on another page, further on in the book, is the full text of the poem. It was dedicated to his wife's mother, Mrs. Henry Mills Alden, who was endeared to all her family.
Many locations including Rutgers University (where Kilmer attended for two years), University of Notre Dame, as well as historians in Mahwah, New Jersey and in other places, have boasted that a specific tree was the inspiration for Kilmer's poem. However, Kenton Kilmer refutes these claims, remarking that,
Mother and I agreed, when we talked about it, that Dad never meant his poem to apply to one particular tree, or to the trees of any special region. Just any trees or all trees that might be rained on or snowed on, and that would be suitable nesting places for robins. I guess they'd have to have upward-reaching branches, too, for the line about 'lifting leafy arms to pray.' Rule out weeping willows."
The popular appeal of this simple poem is likely the source of its endurance despite the continuing negative opinion of the poem's merits from scholars and critics. According to Robert Holliday, Kilmer's friend and editor, "Trees" speaks "with authentic song to the simplest of hearts" and that "(t)he exquisite title poem now so universally known, made his reputation more than all the rest he had written put together. That impeccable lyric which made for immediate widespread popularity." Its popularity has also led to parodies of the poem—some by noted poets and writers. The pattern of its first lines (I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree.) is of seemingly simple rhyme and meter and easy to mimic along with the poem's choice of metaphors. One of the best known parodies is "Song of the Open Road" by American humorist and poet Ogden Nash (1902–1971):
I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Indeed, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all.
"Trees" is a lyric poem by American poet Joyce Kilmer. Written in February 1913, it was first published in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse that August and included in Kilmer's 1914 collection Trees and Other Poems. The poem, in twelve lines of rhyming couplets of iambic tetrameter verse, describes what Kilmer perceives as the inability of art created by humankind to replicate the beauty achieved by nature.
Kilmer is most remembered for "Trees", which has been the subject of frequent parodies and references in popular culture. Kilmer's work is often disparaged by critics and dismissed by scholars as being too simple and overly sentimental, and that his style was far too traditional and even archaic. Despite this, the popular appeal of "Trees" has contributed to its endurance. Literary critic Guy Davenport considers it "the one poem known by practically everybody." "Trees" is frequently included in poetry anthologies and has been set to music several times—including a popular rendition by Oscar Rasbach, performed by singers Nelson Eddy, Robert Merrill, and Paul Robeson.
The location for a specific tree as the possible inspiration for the poem has been claimed by several places and institutions connected to Kilmer's life—among these are Rutgers University, the University of Notre Dame, and towns across the country that Kilmer visited. However, Kilmer's eldest son, Kenton, declares that the poem does not apply to any one tree—that it could apply equally to any. "Trees" was written in an upstairs bedroom at the family's home in Mahwah, New Jersey that "looked out down a hill, on our well-wooded lawn." Ironically, Kenton Kilmer stated that while his father was "widely known for his affection for trees, his affection was certainly not sentimental—the most distinguished feature of Kilmer's property was a colossal woodpile outside his home.":p.28 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trees_(poem))
Because of the varied reception to Kilmer's poem and its simple rhyme and meter, it has been the model for several parodies written by humorists and poets alike. While keeping with Kilmer's iambic tetrameter rhythm and its couplet rhyme scheme, and references to the original poem's thematic material, such parodies are often immediately recognizable, as is seen in "Song of the Open Road" written by poet and humorist Ogden Nash: "I think that I shall never see / A billboard lovely as a tree. / Indeed, unless the billboards fall, / I'll never see a tree at all."
A similar sentiment was expressed in a 1968 episode of the animated series Wacky Races titled "The Wrong Lumber Race", where the villainous Dick Dastardly chops down a tree and uses it as a roadblock against the other racers, declaring proudly: "I think that I shall never see / A roadblock lovely as a tree."
Further, Trappist monk, poet and spiritual writer Thomas Merton used Kilmer's poem as a model for a parody called "Chee$e"—with a dollar sign purposefully substituted for the letter "s"—in which Merton ridiculed the lucrative sale of homemade cheese by his monastery, the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. This poem was not published during Merton's lifetime. Merton often criticized the "commodification of monastic life and business for a profit", claiming that it affected the well-being of the spirit. In his poem, Merton attributed his parody to "Joyce Killer-Diller."
from Superman II
LUTHOR: ... Give me another one...
(EVE, hands him another crystal at random. LUTHOR shoves it in the mechanism - JOR-EL reappears.)
JOR-EL: Education crystal 108. Earth Culture. A typical ode, much loved by the people you will live among, Kal-El. "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer. "I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree; a tree whose branches wide and strong..."
(LUTHOR, to his credit, quickly yanks the tape out.)
LUTHOR: Good god!
EVE: Hey wait! I love "Trees."
LUTHOR: So does the average Cocker Spaniel.
Like Kilmer, Merton was a graduate of Columbia University and a member of its literary society, the Philolexian Society, which has hosted the annual Joyce Kilmer Memorial Bad Poetry Contest since 1986. "Trees" is read at the conclusion of each year's event.
Kilmer's poem was recited in the 1980 film Superman II, as well as its 2006 director's cut. In the scene, villain Lex Luthor (played by Gene Hackman) and others enter Superman's Fortress of Solitude and comes across a video of an elder (John Hollis) from planet Krypton reciting "Trees" as an example of "poetry from Earth literature".[n. 3] Luthor ridicules the poem. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trees_(poem))