Joyce Kilmer

Updated September 23, 2019 | Infoplease Staff

Kilmer, Joyce



Born at New Brunswick, N.J., Dec. 6, 1886. Educated at Columbia University. After a short period of teaching he became associated with the Funk and Wagnalls Company, where he remained from 1909 to 1912 when he assumed the position of literary editor of `The Churchman'. His next step was to associate himself with the staff of the `New York Times', where he became a well-known feature writer, doing in particular a series of interviews with literary people which were later incorporated into a book. During this period he contributed poetry to the leading magazines and published several collections, of which the first, "A Summer of Love", was published in 1911 and was followed by "Trees, and Other Poems", 1914, and "Main Street and Other Poems", 1917. His work, human in mood, mellow in quality, full of tenderness and reverence for the old sanctities, soon drew to itself a large audience, an audience greatly enhanced by the poet's personal contacts. His kindly and whimsical humor, his charm of personality, his enthusiasm and sympathy, won for him a large group of friends and radiated to the wider group who became his readers. In 1908 he married Aline Murray, herself a poet, and several children were born to them, celebrated in the poems of both parents. Upon America's entry into the World War, Joyce Kilmer enlisted, and after a short period of training was sent to France with the 165th Infantry, formerly the "Fighting 69th", a regiment of Irish blood and of the Catholic religion, to which he had himself become an adherent. He was made a sergeant and served with conspicuous gallantry, so much so, indeed, that it was said of him by the chaplain of the regiment that he "had a romantic passion for death in battle." He was promoted to the Intelligence Department of the service where the personal risk was the greatest, and was killed in action at the battle of the Ourcq, July 30, 1918. He was buried within sound of the river. Since his death two volumes containing his complete work in prose and verse, his letters from abroad, and an excellent memoir written by his friend, Robert Holliday, have been published and will do much to perpetuate the memory of this beloved soldier-poet.

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