H A P P Y T H A N K S G i V i N G
Selected by Myra Cohn Livingston
Illustrated by Stephen Gammell
At the First Thanksgiving
From friendly Squanto, wise in all things wild,
We found out where the fattest codfish flash.
To mingle beans and corn in succotash
We learned. We learned as though we were one child.
Today we lay our feast on maple planks
Before Chief Massasoit and ninety braves.
Now out of barrels bound by stout oak staves
We draw a drink to raise in heartfelt thanks
For turkeycock, ripe pumpkin, squash, and gourd,
For stalks that stand all ears in heavy row,
For fallow deer that round the woodlands go---
Praise to thee, Lord!
By winter winds whose edges carve like knives
Our numbers have been pared.
Now we who have been spared
Thank the Good Lord who took but half our lives.
X. J. Kennedy
Thanksgiving Poems, back cover
Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands,
Serve the Lord with gladness:
Come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God:
It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;
We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,
And into his courts with praise:
Be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting;
And his truth endureth to all generations.
The Bible, King James Version
from Jake O'Leary's Thanksgiving
When Jake O'Leary
Was having lunch
With his Auntie Mae
And later on
When dessert came by
Was given his private
And hated the filling,
Hated the crust
And couldn't eat it
And knew he must . . .
In order to get it
Out of sight,
He gobbled the pie
In ONE BIG BITE.
He forced himself
(As a person does)
To thank his auntie
Whose pie it was,
And off she hurried
On flying feet
And brought him another
Pie to eat.
X. J. Kennedy (known to his friends as Joe) was born in Dover, N. J., on August 21, 1929, shortly before the crash of the stock market. Irked by the hardship of having the name of Joseph Kennedy, he stuck the X on and has been stuck with it ever since. In the spring of 2009 the Poetry Society of America gave him the Robert Frost Medal for lifetime service to poetry. The Kennedys have five grown children and six grandchildren. They now live in Lexington, Mass., in a house half century-old and half new.
Myra Cohn Livingston was the recipient of the 1980 Excellence in Poetry Award from the National Council of Teachers of English. She has received critical acclaim for her poetry and her many anthologies. She was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1926, and lived in Texas and California. For over twenty years she taught at the University of California at Los Angeles. She was living in Beverly Hills, CA when she passed away in 1996.
Stephen Gammell is a very popular artist with today's youth, mostly because of his wonderfully frightening images for books such as Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. His illustrations for Where the Buffaloes Begin received the 1981 Caldecott Honor Award. In 1989 he was awarded the Caldecott Medal for his pictures in Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman. Mr. Gammell lives with his wife in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Thanksgiving Poems, Holiday House, New York, 1985
This title is out of print. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of this book then try Better World Books online or other used book sources.
"At the First Thanksgiving, Plymouth 1621" is included here by permission of the author, from The Kite That Braved Old Orchard Beach (Margaret K. McElderry Books / Macmillan), copyright (c) 1991 by X. J. Kennedy
HOLiDAY TiDiNGS is a continuing series of articles for this blog that will focus on poetry written for or appropriate to a specific holiday.