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Joyce Kilmer 1886 (New Brunswick) – 1918 (Seringes-et-Nesles)

When I am tired of earnest men,
 Intense and keen and sharp and clever,
Pursuing fame with brush or pen
 Or counting metal disks forever,
Then from the halls of Shadowland
 Beyond the trackless purple sea
Old Martin's ghost comes back to stand
 Beside my desk and talk to me.

Still on his delicate pale face
 A quizzical thin smile is showing,
His cheeks are wrinkled like fine lace,
 His kind blue eyes are gay and glowing.
He wears a brilliant-hued cravat,
 A suit to match his soft grey hair,
A rakish stick, a knowing hat,
 A manner blithe and debonair.

How good that he who always knew
 That being lovely was a duty,
Should have gold halls to wander through
 And should himself inhabit beauty.
How like his old unselfish way
 To leave those halls of splendid mirth
And comfort those condemned to stay
 Upon the dull and sombre earth.

Some people ask: "What cruel chance
 Made Martin's life so sad a story?"
Martin? Why, he exhaled romance,
 And wore an overcoat of glory.
A fleck of sunlight in the street,
 A horse, a book, a girl who smiled,
Such visions made each moment sweet
 For this receptive ancient child.

Because it was old Martin's lot
 To be, not make, a decoration,
Shall we then scorn him, having not
 His genius of appreciation?
Rich joy and love he got and gave;
 His heart was merry as his dress;
Pile laurel wreaths upon his grave
 Who did not gain, but was, success!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:17 min read

Joyce Kilmer

Joyce Kilmer was an American writer and poet mainly remembered for a short poem titled "Trees", which was published in the collection Trees and Other Poems in 1914. more…

All Joyce Kilmer poems | Joyce Kilmer Books

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