Poetry of Joyce Kilmer
Trees and Other Poems

To A Young Poet Who Killed Himself

When you had played with life a space
 And made it drink and lust and sing,
You flung it back into God's face
 And thought you did a noble thing.
"Lo, I have lived and loved," you said,
 "And sung to fools too dull to hear me.
Now for a cool and grassy bed
 With violets in blossom near me."

Well, rest is good for weary feet,
 Although they ran for no great prize;
And violets are very sweet,
 Although their roots are in your eyes.
But hark to what the earthworms say
 Who share with you your muddy haven:
"The fight was on -- you ran away.
 You are a coward and a craven.

"The rug is ruined where you bled;
 It was a dirty way to die!
To put a bullet through your head
 And make a silly woman cry!
You could not vex the merry stars
 Nor make them heed you, dead or living.
Not all your puny anger mars
 God's irresistible forgiving.

"Yes, God forgives and men forget,
 And you're forgiven and forgotten.
You might be gaily sinning yet
 And quick and fresh instead of rotten.
And when you think of love and fame
 And all that might have come to pass,
Then don't you feel a little shame?
 And don't you think you were an ass?"