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Townspeople Worry About Fate of Tree That May Have Inspired Kilmer

September 27, 1988

MONTAGUE, Mass. (AP) _ Residents are concerned about a rock maple tree that provided a shady spot for poet Joyce Kilmer, who may have been inspired by it when he wrote ″I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree.″

The hospital on whose grounds the tree sits has announced it is closing after 88 years.

″It would be too bad if something happened to that tree, but you never know with the hospital going and all,″ said Sister Mary Rosalie Morrison of the Sisters of Providence order, which owns Farren Memorial Hospital.

Local historians say the grand old maple inspired the Kilmer poem memorized by millions of schoolchildren on Arbor Days past.

Other communities have made the same claim, but Montague offers as proof the many visits the young Kilmer paid to the village of Montague City to stay with his friend and spiritual adviser, the Rev. Edmund D. Casey, a Roman Catholic priest and chaplain at the hospital from 1910 to 1937.

Town lore has it that Kilmer visited around 1910 and sought shade beneath the huge tree eight years before he was killed in France in World War I at age 32.

The poet is said to have stayed in a large house on the north side of the hospital, according to Arthur Paulin, retired director of engineering, who worked at the hospital for 55 years. The house burned down in the 1940s.

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