Special guest author: Trey Barnett; Wildwater Chattooga River Manager.
As a raft guide, I have a great love for beauty, on and off the river. Fortunately, my fiancee has a very similar love. That is what led us last year in search of beauty in a place neither of us had ever been: Joyce Kilmer National Forest. Named after Joyce Kilmer due to the following poem he wrote, this forest is one of the few old growth forests in the U.S., and can only be seen on foot. When we arrived to visit, even the trees surrounding the parking lot blew us away. Our amazement continued as we walked the visitor’s trail through the forest, stopping halfway for a short picnic.
Read the following poem and imagine where inspiration came from in writing this poem; or go visit Joyce Kilmer National Forest to get a perspective of why Kilmer spoke the words, “But only God can make a tree.”
I THINK that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s 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.