Thanksgiving Turkey

Valleys lay in sunny vapor,
And a radiance mild was shed
From each tree that like a taper
At a fest stood. Then we said,
“Our feast, too, shall soon be spread,
Of good Thanksgiving turkey.”

And already still November
Drapes her snowy table here.
Fetch a log, then; coax the ember;
Fill your hearts with old-time cheer:
Heaven be thanked for one more year,
And our Thanksgiving turkey!

Welcome, brothers–all our party
Gathered in the homestead old!
Shake the snow off, and with hearty
Hand-shakes drive away the cold;
Else your plate you’ll hardly hold
Of good Thanksgiving turkey.

When the skies are sad and murky,
‘Tis a cheerful thing to meet
Round this homely roast of turkey–
Pilgrims, pausing just to greet,
Then, with earnest grace, to eat
A new Thanksgiving turkey.

And the merry feast is freighted
With its meanings true and deep.
Those we’ve loved and those we’ve hated,
All, to-day, the rite will keep,
All, to-day, their dished heap
With plump Thanksgiving turkey.

Bu how many hearts must tingle
Now with mournful memories!
In the festal wine shall mingle
Unseen tears, perhaps, from eyes
That look beyond the board where lies
Our plain Thanksgiving turkey.

See around us drawing nearer
Those faint yearning shapes of air–
Friends than whom earth holds none dearer!
No–alas! they are not there:
Have they, then, forgot to share
Our good Thanksgiving turkey?

Some have gone away and tarried
Strangely long by some strange wave;
Some have turned to foes; we carried
Some unto the pine-girt grave:
They’ll come no more so joyous-brave
To take Thanksgiving turkey.

Nay, repine not. Let our laughter
Leap like afire-light up again.
Soon we touch the wide Hereafter,
Snow-field yet untrod of men:
Shall we meet once more–and when?–
To eat Thanksgiving turkey?

And though not, ’twere still ungrateful
‘Mid such warm companionhood
To forecast the future fateful,
Finding there no balanced good.
‘Tis but a type of finer food,
This plain Thanksgiving turkey;

Of higher gifts a quaint reminder.
Then let the bounty do its best
To make us gladder, stronger, kinder.
Bid no ghost to be our guest,
But eat as those now gone to rest
Once at Thanksgiving turkey.

~G. P. Lathrop. Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, December 1876, pg. 122

Happy Thanksgiving to all who visit and comment here. Thank you.

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