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Joyce Kilmer (1886–1918)

Author of Trees and Other Poems

Includes the names: ed. Joyce Kilmer

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Joyce Kilmer was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the son of Dr. Frederick Barnett Kilmer, a physician and analytical chemist, and his wife Annie Ellen Kilburn. He attended Rutgers College Grammar School (now Rutgers Prep School), where he was editor-in-chief of the school newspaper. In his senior year, he won the first Lane Classical Prize, a scholarship for Rutgers College, which he attended from 1904 to 1906. There he was associate editor of the Daily Targum, the campus newspaper. He transferred to Columbia University in New York City, and served as associate editor of the Columbia Spectator. Just before graduation in 1908, he married Aline Murray, a fellow poet with whom he had five children. He worked as the literary editor of the religious newspaper The Churchman, and then was a staff writer for The New York Times. Today he's best known for his poem "Trees," published in the collection Trees and Other Poems (1914). In April 1917, when the USA entered World War I, Kilmer enlisted and was deployed with the New York 69th Infantry Regiment, the famous "Fighting 69th." He refused a commission as an officer although he was eligible, and held the rank of sergeant. He served mostly as a front-line intelligence officer, and managed to write some poetry during the war, including "Rouge Bouquet" about fellow soldiers killed in the Rouge Bouquet forest in France. He was shot dead at age 31 in 1918, during the Second Battle of the Marne, while leading a scouting party to find the position of an enemy machine gun. He was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre for valor by the French Republic, and buried in an American cemetery in France.
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