Writing the meme I posted today made me think of poems appropriate to the season. Only the first and last poems below are directly related to Thanksgiving; I prefer the poems about the Autumn season.
We used to have Thanksgiving Dinner with friends who now live in England. It was their family tradition to read a certain poem before dinner (I think the last poem below is that poem). I liked the tradition more than the poem. My friend now cooks a traditional turkey dinner on the Saturday following Thanksgiving for all of her ex-pat staff. I bet she still reads the poem.
The Dickinson poem about Thanksgiving, like all of her poems, vexes me!
One day is there of the series
Termed Thanksgiving day,
Celebrated part at table,
Part in memory.
Neither patriarch nor pussy,
I dissect the play;
Seems it, to my hooded thinking,
Had there been no sharp subtraction
From the early sum,
Not an acre or a caption
Where was once a room,
Not a mention, whose small pebble
Wrinkled any bay,--
Unto such, were such assembly,
'T were Thanksgiving day.
Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold,
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Nature XXVII, Autumn
The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.
~John Charles McNeill
Cows in the stall and sheep in the fold;
Clouds in the west, deep crimson and gold;
A heron's far flight to a roost somewhere;
The twitter of killdees keen in the air;
The noise of a wagon that jolts through the gloam
On the last load home.
There are lights in the windows; a blue spire of smoke
Climbs from the grange grove of elm and oak.
The smell of the Earth, where the night pours to her
Its dewy libation, is sweeter than myrrh,
And an incense to Toil is the smell of the loam
On the last load home.
My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing dear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.
When Father Carves the Duck
~By E. V. Wright
We all look on with anxious eyes
When father carves the duck,
And mother almost always sighs
When father carves the duck;
Then all of us prepare to rise,
And hold our bibs before our eyes,
And be prepared for some surprise,
When father carves the duck.
He braces up and grabs a fork
Whene'er he carves a duck,
And won't allow a soul to talk
Until he's carved the duck.
The fork is jabbed into the sides,
Across the breast the knife he slides,
While every careful person hides
From flying chips of duck.
The platter's always sure to slip
When father carves a duck,
And how it makes the dishes skip!
Potatoes fly amuck!
The squash and cabbage leap in space,
We get some gravy in our face,
And father mutters a Hindoo grace
Whene'er he carves a duck.
We then have learned to walk around
The dining room and pluck
From off the window-sills and walls
Our share of father's duck.
While father growls and blows and jaws
And swears the knife was full of flaws,
And mother laughs at him because
He couldn't carve a duck.