Joyce Kilmer and ‘Trees’


Sir. – In Frank MacGabhann’s reviews of the books Ireland’s Allies: America and the Easter Rising and Ireland’s Exiled Children: America and the Easter Rising (January 21st), he mentions the connection of Joyce Kilmer with the 1916 Rising and the time he spent beforehand in New York with Joseph Plunkett, later executed in Kilmainham Jail.

MacGabhann also refers to what he describes as Kilmer’s “well-known, but bad, short poem called Trees”.

I would beg to differ with him here. Trees, admittedly short, and maybe too simple for some, has endured in popularity for well over a century and the lovely musical version by Oscar Rasbach has been recorded by many of the great 20th-century voices, such as Paul Robeson, Nelson Eddy, Gracie Fields, Perry Como, etc. Not bad for a “bad” poem. – Yours, etc,