“I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree . . . “

The beginning of Joyce Kilmer’s famous poem, written in 1913, five years before Kilmer was killed in action as a member of the 69th Infantry Regiment.  Many a student has probably memorized the poem at one time or another.

Leave it to the innovation of the Great War to include a tree and make it a tool of war.


Leave it to the armies to challenge the last stanza of Kilmer’s poem:

“Poems are made by fools like me / But only God can make a tree.”

Blair Tarr is the Museum Curator of the Kansas State Historical Society. He oversees the three-dimensional collections of the Society, but has special interests in the Civil War, Wichita-made Valentine diners, and Leavenworth's Abernathy Furniture. In the last few years he has also done a lot of cramming on The Great War. He is a past president of the Kansas Museums Association and the Civil War Round Tables of both Kansas City and Eastern Kansas. He is currently a board member of the Heritage League of Greater Kansas City.