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July 2024
1min read

Seventy-five Years Ago

Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees” (“I think that I shall never see/A poem lovely as a tree”) was published in August in Poetry magazine. “Trees” became Kilmer’s most celebrated poem, though critical reaction to it was decidedly mixed. Heywood Broun called it “one of the most annoying pieces of verse within my knowledge. …”

The author Jack London ( The Call of the Wild and The Sea Wolf ) wrote furiously and went deeply into debt to finance his Wolf House, a sprawling home of stone and wood built among the looming redwoods of London’s California ranch. On the night of August 21, mere days before London and his wife were to move in, a mysterious blaze destroyed London’s Xanadu. The thirty-seven-yearold writer watched forlornly while the turpentine-soaked wood burned with an eerie blue flame. As dawn rose over the , smoking ruins of his estate, he simply said, “Tomorrow we will start to rebuild.” But his failing health and crippling debt prevented him from keeping his vow.

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