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 on the eve of American Thanksgiving, I am re-posting here 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.
This sonnet comes from my sequence Sounding the Seasons published by Canterbury Press The book is available in North america from Steve Bell here, or Amazon here. Since we don’t keep thanksgiving I have made it part of a mini-sequence of three centred on the feast of All Saints, which we have recently celebrated. 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 embodied souls 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 God’s 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.
13 responses to “Thanksgiving: a sonnet”
The link to the other sonnet didn’t work for me. I read some books by Charles Williams in my teens. I enjoyed our them without understanding them much! Sue
Thanks for letting me know. Ill check that link
Simply beautiful, Malcolm. I thank God for you.
Thanks Rusn nice to hear frim you M
Thank you, Malcolm for this beautiful reminder… and I am thankful to have found you and your work!
Thank you, Malcolm. I loved reading this today.
Thanks Phaedra happy Thanksgiving!
Pingback: Happy Thanksgiving » The Fellowship of St. Barnabas
‘The unguessed blessings of our being here’, I’ll be honest, I can’t tell you that I exactly understand what meaning you are trying to convey with that line, but when I read it I feel an ineffable quality that I poorly describe as a sense of gratitude.
I want to thank you for sharing your many poems with us.
Happy Thanksgiving from America!
Thanks Randy. I hope the line suggests sonething of the truth that we coukd never come to the end of counting our blessings…
Malcolm, thank you very much for this sonnet. I read it at our All Souls service and would like to use it for our Bereavement service on 21st Nov. Would you be willing to give permission for us to print it in the order of service if we credit this blog page? Many thanks.
Dear Ruth yes that’s fine. Rather than crediting it to the blog page could you say ‘from Sounding the Seasons Canterbury Press used with the author’s permission’ thanks
Many thanks Malcolm.