Joyce Kilmer's Unpublished Poems Revealed


MAHWAH, NJ --  The three unpublished -- and perhaps unfinished --  Joyce Kilmer poems that were located by the Joyce Kilmer Society of Mahwah are now available to be read by the public.

The Society's March newsletter reported the discovery of the original copies of the poems, which included  cross-outs, corrections and changes, but did not reproduce the poems – only descriptions --  due to possible infringement restrictions. After the story of the discovery appeared on Mahwah Patch, it was listed by the Google search engine, which on its own independent action, reproduced the poems among its images and identified the website on which they appeared in the "Literary" category of the online auction house, www.lonestarautographs.com. As a result of Google's public disclosure, the way was clear for the Society to print the poems in full in its April newsletter.

The Lone Star website contains rare documents of famous people. The three poems apparently were written during Kilmer's early years as a poet. They are entitled "Afternoon," "Avenues," and "There was a murkier tinge in London's air."

The Society came across the poems in its continuing research on the life and works of the poet patriot who wrote the famous poem "Trees" in his Mahwah, NJ house on February 2, 1913.

The main poem, entitled “Afternoon,” was described on the site as“a poetry fragment.” “Afternoon” was handwritten on the back of a Route Sheet of Johnson & Johnson, the pharmaceutical company in which Joyce Kilmer’s father, Frederick, was scientific director.  Joyce helped his father write J&J’s initial First Aid Manual at a time he was writing in his spare time.

The website said it had the original copies, which were authenticated as coming from Joyce Kilmer’s estate. The copies contained cross-outs, changes and corrections.

Here is the full text of "Afternoon":

Long shadows fall across the grass

The birds forget to sing

I sit and watch the white clouds pass

And guess what Dad will bring

Far up the road a rabbit jumps

And rustles in the leaves

A tailor worm airs green back bumps

And measures both my sleeves

The slanting sun has burned the rose

Its leaves fall on the ground

Here is "Avenues":

Up and down the happy street, busy wheels and busy feet

Radiant windows wide and sweet with Posies blue and red

Ribbons, diamonds and gold, silk and velvet fold on fold

Here is shelter from the cold, a place to lay thy head “Nay”

I think He answered me “Not with these my home shall be.”

(Bethlehem & Calvary are crowded with the poor).

 The website description said “Avenues”   was written on the front side  of a single page of  lined paper in a writing pad,  There were many changes, cross outs and corrections.Lower on this page, Kilmer wrote four words apparently trying  to rhyme some words...”boor, endure, lure, moor.”

 Here is "There was a murkier tinge in London's air": 

“Fools sang of sin, for other fools acclaim shame

And Milton’s wreath was tossed to Baudelare

The flowers of evil blossomed everywhere

And in their midst a radiant lily came

Candescent, pure, a cup of living flame

Bloomed for a day and left the earth more fair.”

This poem was written on the back side of the  “Avenues” sheet. At the bottom,, Kilmer wrote:“or does  her lyric knight within her choir to stand.”Joyce Kilmer was familiar with England, and in particular. London. He had made  four trips with family  there– 1899, 1903, 1905 and 1914.     

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