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. 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, 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 and Hilaire Belloc. He enlisted in the New York National Guard and was 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 in 1918 at the age of 31. He was married to Aline Murray, also an accomplished poet and author, with whom he had five children.
Commemoration of John Bosco, Priest, Founder of the Salesian Teaching Order, 1888 Vain is the chiming of forgotten bells That the wind sways above a ruined shrine. Vainer his voice in whom no longer dwells Hunger that craves immortal Bread and Wine. Light songs we breathe, that perish with our breath, Out of our lips that have not kissed the rod. They shall not live who have not tasted death. They only sing who are struck dumb by God.