(For Robert Cortez Holliday)

If I should live in a forest
And sleep underneath a tree,
No grove of impudent saplings
Would make a home for me.
I’d go where the old oaks gather,
Serene and good and strong,
And they would not sigh and tremble
And vex me with a song.
The pleasantest sort of poet
Is the poet who’s old and wise,
With an old white beard and wrinkles
About his kind old eyes.
For these young flippertigibbets
A-rhyming their hours away
They won’t be still like honest men
And listen to what you say.
The young poet screams forever
About his sex and his soul;
But the old man listens, and smokes his pipe,
And polishes its bowl.
There should be a club for poets
Who have come to seventy year.
They should sit in a great hall drinking
Red wine and golden beer.
They would shuffle in of an evening,
Each one to his cushioned seat,
And there would be mellow talking
And silence rich and sweet.
There is no peace to be taken
With poets who are young,
For they worry about the wars to be fought
And the songs that must be sung.
But the old man knows that he’s in his chair
And that God’s on His throne in the sky.
So he sits by the fire in comfort
And he lets the world spin by.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Joyce Kilmer's poem Old Poets

2 Comments

  1. Katelyn says:

    This poem is my favorite by him. It is very sad that this seemed to be his dream to become an “old poet” and he never got to become one. It’s very ironic…

  2. Rao says:

    Simply wonderful; philosophical and a great poem!

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