Thanksgiving Poems

These Thanksgiving poems begin with a poem familiar to many, A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day. Haven’t heard that before?

How about Over the River and through the Woods? Now that might sound familiar! Originally written as a poem, Lydia Maria Child wrote it in celebration of the memories she had visiting her grandfather’s house as a child. Sometimes the word Christmas is substituted for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving poems tell stories of children and pilgrims and pumpkins. Gratitude is expressed for our lives and for God’s blessings.


Thanksgiving Poems

A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day

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,
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, -

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!

~ Lydia Maria Child

The Pilgrims Came

The Pilgrims came across the sea,
And never thought of you and me;
And yet it’s very strange the way
We think of them Thanksgiving Day.

We tell their story old and true
Of how they sailed across the blue,
And found a new land to be free
And built their homes quite near the sea.

Every child knows well the tale
Of how they bravely turned the sail,
And journeyed many a day and night,
To worship God as they thought right.

The people think kthat they were sad,
And grave; I’m sure that they were glad -
They made Thanksgiving Day – that’s fun -
We thank the Pilgrims, every one!

~ Annette Wynne

Thanksgiving Day

Brave and high-souled Pilgrims, you who knew no fears,
How your words of thankfulness go ringing down the years;
May we follow after; like you, work and pray,
And with hearts of thankfulness keep Thanksgiving Day.

~ Annette Wynne


The sea sang sweetly to the shore
Two hundred years ago:
To weary pilgrim-ears it bore
A welcome, deep and low.

They gathered, in the autumnal calm,
To their first house of prayer;
And softly rose their Sabbath psalm
On the wild woodland air.

The ocean took the echo up;
It rang from tree to tree:
And praise, as from an incense-cup,
Poured over earth and sea.

They linger yet upon the breeze,
The hymns our fathers sung:
They rustle in the roadside trees,
And give each leaf a tongue.

The grand old sea is moaning yet
With music’s mighty pain:
No chorus has arisen, to fit
Its wondrous anthem-strain.

When human hearts are tuned to Thine,
Whose voice is in the sea,
Life’s murmuring waves a song divine
Shall chant, O God, to Thee!

~ Lucy Larcom
written for the 200th Anniversary of the Old South Church
Beverly, Massachusetts

The Pumpkin

Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,
The gvines 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 come 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, the fruit loved of boyhood! The old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces were carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
When we laughed round the corn-heap with hears all in tune,
Our chair a broad pumpkin, our lantern the moon,
Telling tales of the fairy who traveled 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!

~ John Greenleaf Whittier

That Things Are No Worse, Sire

From the time of our old Revolution,
When we threw off the yoke of the King,
Has descended this phrase to remember -
To remember, to say, and to sing;
’Tis a phrase that is full of a lesson;
It can comfort and warm like a fire;
It can sheer us when days are the darkest:
”That things are no worse, O my sire!”

’Twas King George’s prime minister said it,
To the King, who had questioned, in heat,
What he meant by appointing Thanksgiving
In such days of ill-luck and defeat.
”What’s the cause of your day of Thanksgiving?
Tell me, pray,” cried the King in his ire.
Said the minister, “This is the reason -
”That things are no worse, O my sire!”

There was nothing come down, in the story,
Of the answer returned by the King;
But I think on his throne he sat silent,
And confessed it a sensible thing;
For there’s never a burden so heavy
That it might not be heavier still;
There is never so bitter a sorrow
That the cup could not fuller fill.

And what of care and of sadness
Our life and our duties may bring,
There’s always the cause for thanksgiving
Which the minister told to the King.
’Tis a lesson to sing and to remember;
It can comfort and warm like a fire,
Can cheer us when days are the darkest -
”That things are no worse, O my sire!”

~ Helen Hunt Jackson

Every Day Thanksgiving Day

Sweet it is to see the sun
Shining on Thanksgiving Day,
Sweet it is to see the snow
Fall as if it came to stay;
Sweet is everything that comes,
For all makes cheer, Thanksgiving Day.

Fine is the pantry’s goodly store,
And fine the heaping dish and tray;
Fine the church-bells ringing; fine
All the dinners’ great array,
Things we’d hardly dare to touch,
Were it not Thanksgiving Day.

Dear the people coming home,
Dear glad faces long away,
Dear the merry cries, and dear
All the glad and happy play.
Dear the thanks, too, that we give
For all of this Thanksgiving Day.

But sweeter, finder, dearer far
It well might be if on our way,
With love for all, with thanks to Heaven,
We did not wait for time’s delay,
But, with remembered blessings then
Made every day Thanksgiving Day.

~ Harriet Prescott Spofford

The Feast-Time of the Year

This is the feast-time of the year,
When plenty pours her wine of cheer,
And even humble boards may spare
To poorer poor a kindly share.
While bursting barns and granaries know
A richer, fuller overflow,
And they who dwell in golden ease
Bless without toil, yet toil to please.
This is the feast-time of the year,
The blessed advent draweth near;
Let rich and poor together break
The bread of love for Christ’s sweet sake,
Against the time when rich and poor
Must ope for Him a common door,
Who comes a guest, yet makes a feast,
And bids the greatest and the least.

~ Anonymous

A Thanksgiving

For the wealth of pathless forests,
Whereon no axe may fall;
For the winds that haunt the branches;
The young bird’s timid call;
For the red leaves dropped like rubies
Upon the dark green sod;
For the waving of the forests,
I thank thee, O my God!

For the sound of waters gushing
In bubbling beads of light;
For the fleets of snow-white lilies
Firm-anchored out of sight;
For the reeds among the eddies;
The crystal on the clod;
For the flowing of the rivers,
I thank Thee, O my God!

For the rosebud’s break of beauty
Along the toiler’s way;
For the violet’s eye that opens
To bless the new-born day;
For the bare twigs that in summer
Floom like the prophet’s rod;
For the blossoming of flowers,
I thank Thee, O my God!

For the lifting up of mountains,
In brightness and in dread;
For the peaks where snow and sunshine
Alone have dared totread;
For the dark of silent gorges,
Whence mighty cedars nod;
For the majesty of mountains.
I thank Thee, O my God!

For the splendor of the sunsets,
Vast mirrored on the sea;
For the gold-fringed clouds, that curtain
Heaven’s inner mystery;
For the molten bars of twilight,
Where thought leans, glad, yet awed;
For the glory of the sunsets,
I thank Thee, O my God!

For the earth, and all its beauty;
The sky, and all its light;
For the dim and soothing shadows
that rest the dazzled sight;
For unfading fields and prairies,
Where sense in vain has trod;
For the world’s exhaustless beauty,
I thank Thee, O my God!

For an eye of inward seeing;
A soul to know and love;
For these common aspirations,
That our high heirship prove;
For the hearts that bless each other
Beneath Thy smile, Thy rod;
For the amaranth saved from Eden
I thank Thee, O my God!

For the hidden scroll, o’erwritten
With one dear Name adored;
For the Heavenly in the human;
The Spirit in the Word;
For the tokens of Thy presence
Within, above, abroad;
For Thine own great gift of Being,
I thank Thee, O my God!

~ Lucy Larcom

Thank you for visiting Thanksgiving Poems.

Return from Thanksgiving Poems to Thanksgiving Traditions & History

Return from Thanksgiving Poems to Holidays in November

Return to Home Page