Thanksgiving Poems To Read At The Table Before You Feast
Families have many different traditions when it comes to gathering around the table on Thanksgiving Day, from saying grace to revealing what you are most thankful for. If you want to mix things up a bit this year, why not introduce your dinner with one of these share-worthy Thanksgiving Day poems? This grouping of poems ranges from serious to hilarious, and they will all tug at your heart's strings when you read them aloud in front of your closest family and friends.
The holidays just seem to present the perfect time for Americans to get creative about their feelings. Why? Probably because they unify the country in a way that's often deeply personal and anchored in tradition. These poems come from a span over the last two centuries, but there's something strangely familiar in all of them. When I read words that were written over a hundred years ago and still manage to find a common thread amongst my inner workings (even in today's day and age), I'm always humbled and amazed. The times may be changing at a rapid pace that's impossible to keep up with, but that doesn't mean that we as humans aren't still tied together at the root of it all — no matter our age, generation, or upbringing.
"The Pumpkin" by John Greenleaf Whittier
Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun, The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run, And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold, With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold, Like that which o’er Nineveh’s prophet once grew, While he waited to know that his warning was true, And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain. On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden; And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold; Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North, On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth, Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines, And the sun of September melts down on his vines. Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West, From North and from South comes the pilgrim and guest; When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board The old broken links of affection restored, When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more, And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before, What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye? What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie? Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling, When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling! When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin, Glaring out through the dark with a candle within! When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune, Our chair a broad pumpkin,—our lantern the moon, Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team! Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better E’er smoked from an oven or circled a platter! Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine, Brighter eyes never watched o’er its baking, than thine! And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express, Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less, That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below, And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow, And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!
3. "Grace for a Child" by Robert Herrick
Here, a little child I stand, Heaving up my either hand: Cold as paddocks though they be, Here I lift them up to Thee, For a benison to fall On our meat, and on us all. Amen.
"Thanksgiving Day" by Lydia Maria Child
Over the river, and through the wood, To grandfather’s house we go; The horse knows the way To carry the sleigh Through the white and drifted snow. Over the river, and through the wood— Oh, how the wind does blow! It stings the toes And bites the nose As over the ground we go. Over the river, and through the wood, To have a first-rate play. Hear the bells ring “Ting-a-ling-ding”, Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day! Over the river, and through the wood Trot fast, my dapple-gray! Spring over the ground, Like a hunting-hound! For this is Thanksgiving Day. Over the river, and through the wood, And straight through the barn-yard gate. We seem to go Extremely slow,— It is so hard to wait! Over the river and through the wood— Now grandmother’s cap I spy! Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done? Hurrah for the pumpkin-pie!
"Eternity" by William Blake
He who binds to himself a joy Does the winged life destroy He who kisses the joy as it flies Lives in eternity’s sunrise
"The Harvest Moon" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
It is the Harvest Moon! On gilded vanes And roofs of villages, on woodland crests And their aerial neighborhoods of nests Deserted, on the curtained window-panesOf rooms where children sleep, on country lanes And harvest-fields, its mystic splendor rests! Gone are the birds that were our summer guests, With the last sheaves return the laboring wains!All things are symbols: the external shows Of Nature have their image in the mind, As flowers and fruits and falling of the leaves;The song-birds leave us at the summer’s close, Only the empty nests are left behind, And pipings of the quail among the sheaves.
"Te Deum" by Charles Reznikoff
Not because of victories I sing, having none, but for the common sunshine, the breeze, the largess of the spring. Not for victory
but for the day’s work doneas well as I was able;not for a seat upon the daisbut at the common table.
Images: Carli Jeen/Unsplash