Best Poems for Thanksgiving Day

catkins-bookshelf-literatureEach Thanksgiving Day, families across the nation gather together to share a delicious multi-course meal and most importantly, to express gratitude for the true blessings in life: family, friends, health, good fortune, the beauty and bounty of nature — as well as the qualities that affirm our connectedness as human beings, like love, kindness, generosity, tolerance, and understanding. What we do not realize, since we are so tethered to technology is that the increased reliance (perhaps, addiction) on social media for information and entertainment is also exposing us to the highest frequency of efficient and targeted advertising in the history of modern culture. Each day, consumers are exposed to more than 5,000 ads per day (compare that to about 500 ads per day in the 1970s) — each promoting a inescapable unhealthy consumer culture, convincing us that we have to own this, use that, or go there. That is why Thanksgiving is so important — we need a respite from the endless tidal wave of ads and focus not on what we don’t have, but rather on what we do have. And what we have does not necessarily mean material things. The wise ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, writing more than 2,000 years ago, expressed it this way: “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

Here are some poems to give thanks on this Thanksgiving Day:

Gratitude — is not the mention
by Emily Dickinson

Gratitude — is not the mention
Of a Tenderness,
But its still appreciation
Out of Plumb of Speech.

When the Sea return no Answer
By the Line and Lead
Proves it there’s no Sea, or rather
A remoter Bed?


Te Deum [from the Latin Te Deum laudamus which means “We praise Thee, O God”]
By Charles Reznikoff

Not because of victories
I sing,
having none,
but for the common sunshine,
the breeze,
the largess of the spring.

Not for victory
but for the day’s work done
as well as I was able;
not for a seat upon the dais
but at the common table.


Prayer for the Great Family
By Gary Snyder

Gratitude to Mother Earth, sailing through night and day–
and to her soil: rich, rare, and sweet
in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Plants, the sun-facing light-changing leaf
and fine root-hairs; standing still through wind
and rain; their dance is in the flowing spiral grain
in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Air, bearing the soaring Swift and the silent
Owl at dawn. Breath of our song
clear spirit breeze
in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Wild Beings, our brothers, teaching secrets,
freedoms and ways; who share with us their milk;
self-complete, brave, and aware
in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Water: clouds, lakes, rivers, glaciers;
holding or releasing; streaming through all
our bodies salty seas
in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to the Sun: blinding pulsing light through
trunks of trees, through mists, warming caves where
bears and snakes sleep–he who wakes us–
in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to the Great Sky
who holds billions of stars–and goes yet beyond that–
beyond all powers, and thoughts
and yet is within us–
Grandfather Space.
The Mind is his Wife
so be it.

Read related posts: Best Thanksgiving Movies
Top Thanksgiving Myths
Best Books About Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Lite

For further reading: Pilgrims of Plymouth by Susan Goodman (2001)
Mayflower 1620: A New Look at a Pilgrim Voyage by Peter Arenstam (2007)
1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving by Catherine O’Neill Grace (2001)