The Poets’ Corner: Making Poetry a Tradition at the Thanksgiving Table | SierraSun.com

The Poets’ Corner: Making Poetry a Tradition at the Thanksgiving Table

Barbara Perlman Whyman

Because I have has so many requests from readers to reprint my selection of poems for the Thanksgiving table, I graciously offer them once again. Contrary to the belief for many in America Thanksgiving means football, parades led by Santa, and sales, sales, sales, Thanksgiving actually offers us a time for reflection, for thought, for appreciation and celebration of that which we have. Whether you will share your table with many or few, or perhaps choose to dine alone, here are some poems, thoughts and proverbs to read, to think about and discuss at the Thanksgiving table.

“We give Him thanks for our supporters, who had charge of our harvest.

We give thanks that the voice of the Great Spirit can still be heard.”

” Traditional Iroquois prayer, translated by 19th century political advocate Harriet

Maxwell Converse, the first white woman to be named a Chief of the Iroquois Confederacy

…of Tahoe

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The face of the water, in time, became a wonderful book ” a book that was a dead language to the uneducated passenger, but which told its mind to me without reserve, delivering its most cherished secrets as clearly as if it uttered them with a voice. And it was not a book to be read once and thrown aside, for it had a new story to tell every day.

” Mark Twain

Otherwise

I got out of bed

On two strong legs.

It might have been

Otherwise. I ate

Cereal, sweet

Milk, ripe, flawless

Peach. It might

Have been otherwise.

I took the dog uphill

To the birch wood.

All morning I did

The work I love.

At noon I lay down

With my mate. It might

Have been otherwise.

We ate dinner together

At a table with silver

Candlesticks. It might

Have been otherwise.

I slept in a bed

In a room with paintings

On the walls, and

Planned another day

Just like this day.

But one day, I know,

It will be otherwise.

” Jane Kenyon

As the leaves of

the trees are said to absorb all noxious qualities

of the air, and

to breathe forth

a purer atmosphere,

so it seems to me as

if they drew from

us all sordid and angry passions,

and breathed forth peace and

philanthropy. There is a severe

and settled majesty in woodland

scenery that enters into the soul,

and dilates and elevates it,

and fills it with noble inclinations.

” Washington Irving

Poem in Thanks

Lord Whoever, thank you for this air

I’m about to in-and exhale, this hutch

In the woods, the wood for the fire,

The light ” both lamp and the natural stuff

Of leaf-back, fern, and wing.

For the piano, the shovel

For ashes, the moth-gnawed

Blankets, the stone-cold water,

Stone-cold: thank you.

Thank you, Lord, coming for

To carry me here ” where I’ll gnash

It out, Lord, where I’ll calm

and work, Lord, thank you

for the goddamn birds singing!

” Thomas Lux

Nov. 2, Voltaire (1694)

Nov. 22, George Eliot (1819)

Nov. 25, Gail Sheehy (1937)

Nov. 26, Charles Schultz (1922)

Nov. 27, L. Sprague de Camp (1907)

Adults (fiction): “The Cactus Eaters: How I Lost My Mind-and Almost Found Myself-On the Pacific Crest Trail” by Dan White

Young Adult (ages 13-17): “Airhead” by Meg Cabot

Juvenile (fourth to sixth grade): “One Small Step” by Phillip Kerr