Thanksgiving Turkey

By George Parsons Lathrop

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!

Welcome, brothers—all our party
   Gathered in the homestead old!
Shake the snow off and with hearty
   Hand-shakes drive away the cold;
   Else your plate you’ll hardly hold
          Of good Thanksgiving turkey.

When the skies are sad and murky,
   ‘Tis a cheerful thing to meet
Round this homely roast of turkey—
   Pilgrims, pausing just to greet,
   Then, with earnest grace, to eat
          A new Thanksgiving turkey.

And the merry feast is freighted
   With its meanings true and deep.
Those we’ve loved and those we’ve hated,
   All, to-day, the rite will keep,
   All, to-day, their dishes heap
          With plump Thanksgiving turkey.

But how many hearts must tingle
   Now with mournful memories!
In the festal wine shall mingle
   Unseen tears, perhaps from eyes
   That look beyond the board where lies
          Our plain Thanksgiving turkey.

See around us, drawing nearer,
   Those faint yearning shapes of air—
Friends than whom earth holds none dearer
   No—alas! they are not there:
   Have they, then, forgot to share
          Our good Thanksgiving turkey?

Some have gone away and tarried
   Strangely long by some strange wave;
Some have turned to foes; we carried
   Some unto the pine-girt grave:
   They’ll come no more so joyous-brave
          To take Thanksgiving turkey.

Nay, repine not. Let our laughter
   Leap like firelight up again.
Soon we touch the wide Hereafter,
   Snow-field yet untrod of men:
   Shall we meet once more—and when?—
          To eat Thanksgiving turkey.

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