Joyce Kilmer

(1886-1918 / New Jersey)

To A Young Poet Who Killed Himself - Poem by Joyce Kilmer

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

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

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

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


Comments about To A Young Poet Who Killed Himself by Joyce Kilmer

  • Cynthia Buhain-baello (7/16/2009 8:13:00 AM)


    A cutting poem on a young poet's wasted life and his defeatist outlook - a shame for those so gifted but so cowardly as to escape through suicide. (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (1/22/2009 3:16:00 PM)


    My take of this poem is that life is a precious gift given to us by God. To make the decision to end it by suicide is unforgivable and a cowardly act that does not afford
    us a chance to find a solution to whatever the problem is.
    (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: lust, anger, woman, god, running, star, women



Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002



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