The first poem I ever had to memorize

I must have been in seventh grade. Maybe I’m wrong about it being the first one I had to memorize. I know we started working on poetry in third grade, and we wrote many haiku that year. I’m certain we probably had to memorize other poems throughout the years.

That being said, I probably should have named this post The first poem I had to memorize that I actually still remember today, but that seems a little long for a title. We’ll just pretend that I didn’t memorize a single poem before the seventh grade.

Maybe you remember this poem. Maybe you had to memorize it, too. I remember we had to make posters and really immortalize Trees by Joyce Kilmer. In case you didn’t have to memorize it, or you’ve long since forgotten, here it is.


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

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree

Those were the lines that stuck with me. I loved telling people that poems were made by fools like me. I kept those lines in a notebook. I plastered those lines to my wall. I didn’t want to make a tree.

I loved writing poetry. I can’t honestly say what happened. I’ve tried over the years, but the lines just don’t flow like they used to. There is no rhythm, no… poetry to my poems anymore.


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