Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Scribble picnic :: tree (and a story)

This week’s theme for Scribble Picnic brought back a memory of a poem I “wrote” years ago. It was an assignment for English class – I was probably 11 or 12 – but I just couldn’t do it. Poems are hard to write with all that rhyming and line structure and stuff.

“The …” No, scratch that. “This …” Nope. “Once ...” No, that’s not it either. I’m not writing a fairy tale. I need a good poem word to start with.

I was beyond frustrated. I had to turn in something for class. Anything!

Our home reference shelf was skimpy on poetry. Dictionary. Encyclopedia Yearbook 1959. Medical reference book. Sear’s Christmas catalog. Wait! A book of children’s stories and rhymes! Bingo!

In my defense, my intention was to take a look and get some inspiration but desperation is a powerful motivator.

I copied a poem. Yes, I confess. I plagiarized.


“This book is so old, no one will know. Whoever heard of this old poem? No one! It’s so silly,” said my inner demon.

“That’s cheating and just plain wrong,” said my inner angel.

“I’ll change it up a bit, make it my own. Easy peasy,” I said to the demon and the angel. “Now hush!” I opened my notebook and began to write.


I think that I shall never see.
(No, I never say ‘shall’, I’ll change that to ‘will.’)
I think that I will never see.

A poem lovely as a tree. (Add ‘as’…that’s how I would say it.)
A poem as lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
(Cut this paragraph. What if I have to read my poem aloud? I can’t say breast in front of boys. That’s too embarrassing.)

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
(Oh, that’s nice. I’ll keep that in.)

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
(I’ll change robins to sparrows then it’s not copying word for word.)

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
(Bosom. Breast. Same thing. Take out this part.)

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
(This sounds like something I might write. I’ll leave this in.)

By Joyce Kilmer
(Change this to my name.)

A quick rewrite in my notebook and my homework is done!

Whew! I wrote my poem and could rest easy. The next morning, I handed in my assignment and didn’t give it another thought.


The next morning, my paper is returned.


That’s the grade I got. Well, why not? It was a good poem. It had nice rhymes and everything.

My teacher was so amazed at me. “Did you write this?” he asked.

“Yes, of course,” I replied. Well, I had written it in my notebook, hadn’t I?

“YOU? You wrote THIS?”

“Yes! I wrote it!” Why is he picking on me? He can’t think I cheated. That book I used was so old.

“What gave you the idea?” he wondered.

“I don’t know. I was just looking out the window and thinking and thinking.” Does he see that I’m about to crack?

He quit questioning me. Was he waiting for a confession? Well, I couldn’t admit it now. I told him I wrote it and I was standing my ground.

He didn’t take away my A+. Whew. I’m sure in my whole life this was my one and only A+.

Now skip ahead three years…

Imagine my surprise. I’m sitting in Sophomore English class and thumbing through our textbook. When, hello, there it is. My poem!

Mostly, my poem.

If you made it this far, I hope you enjoyed my story and my little doodle of a tree, a cloud and a pair of sheep! Please stop by and visit other artists at Scribble Picnic.


  1. Ha-ha!!! You kept me guessing here Tammie - you certainly had guts to stand your ground and call it 'your poem' - well in a way it was! As for your English teacher, I have my doubts about him.

    Love your tree art - and those cute sheep look happy in the spring meadow. You make it look so cheery and bright with only a couple of colors.

    Mary -

  2. I did enjoy this 'stressful' story and the doodle tree.

  3. Oh yes, I did love you story, and read it over and over and chuckled he time a little harder. You are not only a great artist, but a comedian too. Love it and love your take.....Hugs.

  4. I thought for sure he was going to bust you! LOL But you DID make the illo and it's adorable! :D (I would love to pet one of those sheep!)

  5. I like reading this and enjoyed your little notes about your writing assignment. I was kind of thinking the story is about the sheeps talking like, the first sheep say to another, "Hey, do I look fat today?" and the other replied honestly because she was a very honest sheep. "Yes, I believed your hair adds 5 pounds." The first gave the second sheep an alarming look and then said, "Well, yours too! " and then she would run off. silly tale for a sweet drawing.

    have a lovely day.

  6. love the little sheep and Im pretty sure I've heard that poem before ;)

  7. Fun that this theme brought back memories for you.
    Your sketch is refreshing and cute.

  8. Sue,
    I wonder how long the guilt ate at you. And your teacher - ?? even I knew that poem. I think my aunt recited it once. I think she had to make a poem similar and she used clouds.
    Lovely painting,

  9. I am sure you teacher must had read that poem before. how odd he gave you an A+ but then again you were yougn and he was probably glad you were reading adn personalizing the poem!

    This is a lovely drawing too and lends itself well to that child's heart. Thank you, Sue!

    BTW, the new themes are up for the week, should you want to see those.

  10. I love your tree.... and sheep.... and cloud. We had to memorize that poem in 6th grade and recite it in front of the class and surprisingly I still remember a lot of it. Joyce Kilmer was born in a town not far from where I live and a lot of schools and parks are named after him.

  11. Your tale of confession is SO funny! Thanks for sharing! Did you ever have a chance to talk with your 6th grade teacher anytime after you realized how widely-known the original poem was?
    I love the painting–so bright and cheery!

  12. Such a well-known poem to pick...hahaha I remember that we sang it as a song in high school music class. I think your teacher may have been onto you but, as Michael said, he probably took into account your age and the fact that you had altered it to 'make it your own'. hehe Maybe he thought the A+ would guilt you into a confession. hehe I love your take on the theme, Sue...those little sheep are so cute!


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