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The Snowman in the Yard
Joyce Kilmer


For Thomas Augustine Daly

The Judge's house has a splendid porch, with
      pillars and steps of stone,
And the Judge has a lovely flowering hedge that
      came from across the seas;
In the Hales' garage you could put my house and
      everything I own,
   And the Hales have a lawn like an emerald and a
      row of poplar trees.

Now I have only a little house, and only a little lot,
   And only a few square yards of lawn, with
      dandelions starred;
But when Winter comes, I have something there
      that the Judge and the Hales have not,
   And it's better worth having than all their wealth--
      it's a snowman in the yard.

The Judge's money brings architects to make his
      mansion fair;
   The Hales have seven gardeners to make their
      roses grow;
The Judge can get his trees from Spain and France
      and everywhere,
   And raise his orchids under glass in the midst of
      all the snow.

But I have something no architect or gardener ever
   A thing that is shaped by the busy touch of little
      mittened hands:
And the Judge would give up his lonely estate,
      where the level snow is laid
   For the tiny house with the trampled yard, the
      yard where the snowman stands.

They say that after Adam and Eve were driven
      away in tears
   To toil and suffer their life-time through,
      because of the sin they sinned,
The Lord made Winter to punish them for half
      their exiled years,
   To chill their blood with the snow, and pierce
      their flesh with the icy wind.

But we who inherit the primal curse, and labour
      for our bread,
   Have yet, thank God, the gift of Home, though
      Eden's gate is barred:
And through the Winter's crystal veil, Love's roses
      blossom red,
   For him who lives in a house that has a snowman
      in the yard.

This poem is in the public domain.



Alfred Joyce Kilmer (1886 – 1918) is best known for his poem, "Trees,"  but he actually produced quite a large volume of work. Had his life not ended so tragically early, many believe he would have developed into one of America's great poets. Joyce married young and fathered five children even as he was establishing himself as a teacher, writer, and lecturer. While coping with the illness of one of their children, Joyce and his wife converted from the Episcopal faith to Catholocism and he ultimately became the leading Catholic poet of his time. When World War I broke out, Joyce enlisted and had contracted to write a book about his war experiences. Unfortunately, he was killed on a French battlefield before he ever even began the book; he was only 31 when he died. Interesting side note: Joyce's father worked for Johnson & Johnson and is credited with inventing that company's famous baby powder.




Post New Comment:
Nice to read...and it is true that the best yard is the one with the snowman in it!!!
Posted 01/18/2020 12:46 PM
There actually IS rhyme, Jeri; it's fairly subtle in the form he chose to use, though.
Posted 01/18/2020 12:16 PM
The only thing missing is rhyme! Very nice reading, so smooth.
Posted 01/18/2020 11:13 AM
We have lots of snow but it is too cold to pack.
Posted 01/18/2020 09:22 AM
I was just thinking how I would like to build a snowman with my grandson. After reading Kilmer's poem, I will!
Posted 01/18/2020 09:05 AM
Larry Schug:
Ask me how I feel about this after the snow ends, the temp drops and the wind gets stronger this afternoon! A new poem of Kilmer's to me.
Posted 01/18/2020 07:37 AM

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