The American poet Joyce Kilmer was killed on July 30 1918 while serving with the New York National Guard during the Second Battle of the Marne. He was 31 years old. His poem “Trees” is one that even today many people know.
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.
One of the great tragedies of war is the loss of the artists, writers, poets and thinkers who don’t come back to continue making contributions to human society. The cost of war is often calculated in lives and treasure, but an additional loss are the advances that might have come if these lives were not wasted in war, as so many millions were in World War One.