20 Thanksgiving Poems to Read Around the Table
These heartfelt, profound, and sometimes funny works of poetry are perfect to share for your Thanksgiving celebration.
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Poetry for Turkey Day
Thanksgiving is a holiday that often inspires celebrants to wax poetic. Thinking and speaking on the things you’re grateful for in your own life has become a time-honored Thanksgiving tradition—but sometimes it can be hard to put those feelings into words. Luckily, there’s no shortage of Thanksgiving poems, written by wordsmiths about the holiday, the seasons, and everyday blessings. Some are definitely more religiously oriented, to the point that they read more like Thanksgiving prayers than Thanksgiving poems. Others celebrate the jolly good time that can come with reconnecting with family over a delectable meal! But they all enforce the value of the many things to be thankful for. With all of these, you’ll have some great words to say over your Thanksgiving table. If you’re looking for something pithier, these Thanksgiving quotes and wishes will be perfect!
James McIntyre, “Thanksgiving Ode, November 15th, 1888”
And we have now a fine November,
Warmer far than in September;
The apple, which is queen of fruits,
Was a good crop and so is roots.
The rains they did replenish springs,
And it gratitude to each heart brings,
When we reflect on bounteous season,
For grateful feelings all have reason.
Try out these Thanksgiving games to have fun on the holiday.
Lydia Marie Child, “The New-England Boy’s Song about 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!
Did you sing this in your head?! You’ve more likely heard this as a Thanksgiving song rather than a Thanksgiving poem! But Child wrote this poem years before it was set to music (despite the “song” part of its title).
Harriet Maxwell Converse, “The Thanksgivings”
We who are here present thank the Great Spirit that we are here to praise Him.
We thank Him that He has created men and women, and ordered that these beings shall always be living to multiply the earth.
We thank Him for making the earth and giving these beings its products to live on.
We thank Him for the water that comes out of the earth and runs for our lands.
We thank Him for all the animals on the earth.
We thank Him for certain timbers that grow and have fluids coming from them for us all.
We thank Him for the branches of the trees that grow shadows for our shelter.
We thank Him for the beings that come from the west, the thunder and lightning that water the earth.
We thank Him for the light which we call our oldest brother, the sun that works for our good.
The history of Thanksgiving requires acknowledging Indigenous traditions, history, and present-day experiences.
Thomas Frederick Young, “Thanksgiving Day”
God of the harvest, once again
Our joyful tones we raise,
For all Thy goodness, day by day,
We give Thee thankful praise.
With blessings rich, from fertile field,
And gifts from fruitful tree,
We wish, this day, our thanks to yield
With earnest hearts, to Thee.
We plough’d the ground, we sow’d the seed,
But Thou didst send the rain
In grateful show’rs, in time of need,
And now we’ve reap’d the grain.
Check out the best Thanksgiving menu ideas.
George Parsons Lathrop, “Thanksgiving Turkey”
Valleys lay in sunny vapor,
And a radiance mild was shed
From each tree that like a taper
At a feast 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!
The joys of the turkey! This is why the president pardons a turkey every Thanksgiving.
Langston Hughes, “Thanksgiving Time”
When the night winds whistle through the trees and blow the crisp brown leaves a-crackling down,
When the autumn moon is big and yellow-orange and round,
When old Jack Frost is sparkling on the ground,
It’s Thanksgiving Time!
When the pantry jars are full of mince-meat and the shelves are laden with sweet spices for a cake,
When the butcher man sends up a turkey nice and fat to bake,
When the stores are crammed with everything ingenious cooks can make,
It’s Thanksgiving Time!
Hanford Lennox Gordon, “Thanksgiving”
The winter-storm may rack and roar;
We do not fear its blast;
And we’ll bear with faith and fortitude
The lot that thou hast cast.
But Father, Father, O look down
On the poor and homeless head
And feed the hungry thousands
That cry to thee for bread.
Thou givest us our daily bread;
We would not ask for more;
But, Father, give their daily bread
To the multitudes of poor.
We appreciate the selflessness of this Thanksgiving poem/prayer! It was actually written during a financial depression in 1857. Here are more Thanksgiving blessings that capture that spirit.
Hattie Howard, “Thanksgiving”
Nature, erewhile so marvelously lovely, is bereft
Of her supernal charm;
And with the few dead garlands of departed splendor left,
Like crape upon her arm,
In boreal hints, and sudden gusts
That fan the glowing ember,
By multitude of ways fulfills
The promise of November.
Upon the path where Beauty, sylvan priestess, sped away,
Lies the rich afterglow
Of Indian Summer, bringing round the happy holiday
That antedates the snow:
The glad Thanksgiving time, the cheer,
The festival commotion
That stirs fraternal feeling from
The mountains to the ocean.
E. P. Powell, “Thanksgiving Day”
is a jewel,
to set in the hearts of honest men;
but be careful
that you do not take the day,
and leave out the gratitude.
Thornton W. Burgess, “Thanksgiving Comes but Once a Year”
Thanksgiving comes but once a year,
But when it comes it brings good cheer.
For in my storehouse on this day
Are piles of good things hid away.
Each day I’ve worked from early morn
To gather acorns, nuts, and corn,
Till now I’ve plenty and to spare
Without a worry or a care.
So light of heart the whole day long,
I’ll sing a glad Thanksgiving song.
Kate Seymour Maclean, “Thanksgiving”
The Autumn hills are golden at the top,
And rounded as a poet’s silver rhyme;
The mellow days are ruby ripe, that drop
One after one into the lap of time.
Dead leaves are reddening in the woodland copse,
And forest boughs a fading glory wear;
No breath of wind stirs in their hazy tops,
Silence and peace are brooding everywhere.
We love this beautiful take on Thanksgiving/fall beauty. Read these inspiring fall quotes to welcome the season as well.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox, “Thanksgiving”
We ought to make the moments notes
Of happy, glad Thanksgiving;
The hours and days a silent phrase
Of music we are living.
And so the theme should swell and grow
As weeks and months pass o’er us,
And rise sublime at this good time,
A grand Thanksgiving chorus.
A Thanksgiving chorus?! Seems like the perfect opportunity to sing Thanksgiving songs.
James Whitcomb Riley, “Thanksgiving”
Let us be thankful – thankful for the prayers
Whose gracious answers were long, long delayed,
That they might fall upon us unawares,
And bless us, as in greater need, we prayed.
Let us be thankful for the loyal hand
That love held out in welcome to our own,
When love and only love could understand
The need of touches we had never known.
Edgar Guest, “Thanksgiving”
Gettin’ together to smile an’ rejoice,
An’ eatin’ an’ laughin’ with folks of your choice;
An’ kissin’ the girls an’ declarin’ that they
Are growin’ more beautiful day after day;
Chattin’ an’ braggin’ a bit with the men,
Buildin’ the old family circle again;
Livin’ the wholesome an’ old-fashioned cheer,
Just for awhile at the end of the year.
Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the door
And under the old roof we gather once more
Just as we did when the youngsters were small;
Mother’s a little bit grayer, that’s all.
Father’s a little bit older, but still
Ready to romp an’ to laugh with a will.
Here we are back at the table again
Tellin’ our stories as women an’ men.
We love how jovial this one is! Thanksgiving is for giving thanks and appreciating the things you have, sure, but it can also be a rollicking good time with those fun members of the family. It can also be a fun party atmosphere if you’re celebrating Friendsgiving!
Eliza Cook, “A Song for Merry Harvest”
Bring forth the harp, and let us sweep its fullest, loudest string.
The bee below, the bird above, are teaching us to sing
A song for merry harvest; and the one who will not bear
His grateful part partakes a boon he ill deserves to share.
The grasshopper is pouring forth his quick and trembling notes;
The laughter of the gleaner’s child, the heart’s own music floats.
Up! up! I say, a roundelay from every voice that lives
Should welcome merry harvest, and bless the God that gives.
John Greenleaf Whittier, “The Pumpkin”
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?
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!
For his sake, we wish John Greenleaf Whittier had been alive to see the Costco pumpkin pie.
Charles Frederick White, “Thoughts of Thanksgiving”
The roast goose, steaming on the plate,
The sweet potato cobbler,
The cranberry sauce, the pudding baked,
The seasoned turkey gobbler,
All these delights and many more,
From north, south, west and east,
Do all the nation keep in store
For this Thanksgiving feast.
Lizelia Augusta Jenkins Moorer, Untitled
Thankful for peace o’er land and sea,
Thankful for signs of liberty,
Thankful for homes, for life and health,
Pleasure and plenty, fame and wealth.
Thankful for friends and loved ones too,
Thankful for all things, good and true,
Thankful for harvest in the fall,
Thankful to Him who gave it all.
Henry Alford, “Harvest Home”
Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest home:
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin;
God, our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied:
Come to God’s own temple, come,
Raise the song of harvest home.
All the world is God’s own field,
Fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown,
Unto joy or sorrow grown;
First the blade, and then the ear,
Then the full corn shall appear:
Lord of harvest, grant that we
Wholesome grain and pure may be.
J. A. Shedd, Untitled
He who thanks but with the lips
Thanks but in part;
The full, the true Thanksgiving
Comes from the heart.
We love these Thanksgiving poems so much that we might use some of their lines as Thanksgiving captions! (With credit, of course!)