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Poem Sampler

The Cranberry Cantos

Thanksgiving poems for family and friends.
Illustration: Mark McGinnis

Thanksgiving is America’s harvest festival—a time to acknowledge the help of family and friends, and a reminder of what a gift it is to be alive. It’s a day to overindulge in the here and now, even as we reflect on the past. In other words, it’s the perfect holiday for poetry! While a barn full of winter stock and a home overrun with family and friends does not fit with our popular conception of the poet as solitary brooder, these poems show that the occasion has provided poets—from Harriet Maxwell Converse in the 19th century to Elizabeth Alexander in the 21st—with plenty of food for thought. Whether you’re looking for a pre-meal toast, a scrap of American history, or a late night conversation starter, these poems should provide ample stuffing.

Toasts and Prayers

A Thanksgiving to God, for his House by Robert Herrick

Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson

The Thanksgivings by Harriet Maxwell Converse

Thanksgiving by Edgar Guest


Family, Food, and Fellowship

Butter by Elizabeth Alexander

Family Reunion by Maxine W. Kumin

Perhaps the World Ends Here by Joy Harjo

América by Richard Blanco

The New-England Boy's Song about Thanksgiving Day by Lydia Maria Child

Stomackes by Albert Goldbarth

Thanksgiving Magic by Rowena Bastin Bennett

Yam by Bruce Guernsey

Totem by Eamon Grennan

Bless Their Hearts by Richard Newman

First Thanksgiving by Sharon Olds

Thanksgiving for Two by Marjorie Saiser



The Season

To Autumn by John Keats

My Triumph by John Greenleaf Whittier

Signs of the Times by Paul Laurence Dunbar

The Garden of Proserpine by Algernon Charles Swinburne

The Pumpkin by John Greenleaf Whittier

When the Frost is on the Punkin by James Whitcomb Riley

Zebra by C.K. Williams

The Gift Outright by Robert Frost


Poem Sampler

The Cranberry Cantos

Thanksgiving poems for family and friends.

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