I am posting here a sonnet for Thanksgiving day which I have written for my American friends. There is no feast of thanksgiving in either the British national or church calendars, but it seems to me a good thing for any nation to set aside a day for the gratitude which is in truth the root of every other virtue. So here is an Englishman’s act of thanksgiving. as always you can hear the poem by clicking on the play button if it appears or on the title.
I composed this as part of a friendly competition with some American poets to compose Petrarchan sonnets on the theme of Thanksgiving. Check out this Excellent Sonnet from my friend the academic and poet Holly Ordway. You will see that we have both been influenced by the ideas and language of CS Lewis’s fellow inkling Charles Williams.
I am including this sonnet in my sequence Sounding the Seasons which comes out this year with Canterbury Press. since we don’t keep thanksgiving I have made it pasrt of a mini-sequence of three centred on the feast of All Saints, which we have recently celebrated. I took the photograph on a morning walk by the river cam, a walk whose views are a constant spur to thanksgiving! The image that follows the poem is by Margot Krebs Neale
Thanksgiving starts with thanks for mere survival,
Just to have made it through another year
With everyone still breathing. But we share
So much beyond the outer roads we travel;
Our interweavings on a deeper level,
The modes of life that souls alone can share,
The unguessed blessings of our being here,
The warp and weft that no one can unravel.
So I give thanks for our deep coinherence
Inwoven in the web of Gods own grace,
Pulling us through the grave and gate of death.
I thank him for the truth behind appearance,
I thank him for his light in every face,
I thank him for you all, with every breath
11 responses to “Thanksgiving; a Sonnet”
Thank you Malcolm… we celebrate Thanksgiving for some years now. An ‘unpolluted’ festival we think!
Thanks to you Malcolm
makes me feel good / I have a few more breaths / adds life and grace
Thank you, Malcolm. We adopted our own version of Thanksgiving, much along these lines. It’s a gentle holiday, if you avoid Black Friday, ha-ha.
I prefer the Canadian Thanksgiving, which is definitely about Harvest, to the American Thanksgiving, which is all entangled with colonialism, the Puritans, and so on.
yes, I understand, though i have taken it out from either context and just made it a thanksgiving for our common humanity; the unguessed blessings of our being here.’
The hint half (un)guessed, the gift half (mis)understood is Incarnation…and we give thanks both from within and without a (post)colonial posture…with gratitude for your consistently irenic voice Malcolm, resisting the temptation to knee-jerk anti-Americanism. America is as complex as a continent with fifty nations, and all simplistic images of it are a travesty. But gratitude subverts the travesty, and you compel such in your poetry, friend
Thank you Bruce, thats very well put about America and I entirely agree with you. I knew you would get the Eliot reference here. BTW the four Qu4rtets book has just arrived. Mant thanks!
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