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Site of Tree from Joyce Kilmer's

Site of Tree from Joyce Kilmer's "Trees"

Field review by the editors.

New Brunswick, New Jersey

According to Rutgers University, a white oak tree on its campus was the one that inspired Alfred Joyce Kilmer's 1913 poem, "Trees." As far as poems go, "Trees" is well-known: a musical version of it even plays over loudspeakers at Trees of Mystery in California. Kilmer lived many miles away from Rutgers, in Mahwah, New Jersey, and the town counter-claims that one of its trees was the one that inspired the poem. Rutgers' tree, according to Mahwah, is a "fable."

The Rutgers tree grew old and was cut down in 1963, but the lingering passion for "Trees" remained strong. In 1986, to commemorate the centennial of Kilmer's birth, the University planted another white oak on the spot and placed a small monument at its base. It doesn't mention "Trees," or that this was the tree, but it didn't have to; everyone knew why it was there, although with the passage of time fewer people recognize its significance.

Tree 2.0 is the closest that any of us will ever get to "Trees." The original was chopped up and turned into souvenir gavels, which were given to VIPs that Rutgers wanted to impress.

Site of Tree from Joyce Kilmer's "Trees"

50 Labor Center Way, New Brunswick, NJ
US-1 exit onto NJ-617/Ryders Lane toward New Brunswick. Drive north a half-mile. Turn right at the stoplight onto Labor Center Way, then right into the first parking lot. Turn right again onto the small road that passes in front of the building. The small tombstone-like monument is next to third tree on the right.
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