Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Thanksgiving Poem

When I think of Thanksgiving, my mind goes back to a poem that I learned in elementary school. The poem was written by Lydia Maria Child, a children’s magazine editor who was also prominent in the anti-slavery movement of the 19th century. The poem was called “Thanksgiving Day” although most of us know it best by its first line. The poem was first published in Flowers for Children, volume 2 in 1844. This version comes from Children’s Literature: A Textbook of Sources for Teachers and Teacher-Training Classes, edited by Charles Madison Curry and Erle Elsworth Clippinger (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1921).

Over the river and through the wood,
To grandfather’s house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood --
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the wood
To have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river and through the wood,
Trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground,
Like a hunting-hound!
For this is Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river and through the wood,
And straight through the barnyard gate.
We seem to go
Extremely slow,
It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the wood --
Now grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for pumpkin pie!


Jasia said...

Thank you for sharing this poem, Lori. I had no idea this was a Thanksgiving poem/song. I thought it was a Christmas carol. I didn't realize it had so many stanzas/verses. I think I only ever heard the first one. I thought it was to "grandmother's house we go". (Guess I watch too many Charlie Brown specials.) I didn't realize it was so old! 1844? Wow! And last but not least, I didn't know it was actually a poem. See how much I've learned from your post? You're an excellent teacher Lori. I'm going to impress all of my family by sharing what I've learned at Thanksgiving dinner. Thank you for making me look like an expert ;-)

I really enjoyed this!

Terry Thornton said...

Lori, Thanks for THANKSGIVING POEM --- I've known the words and tune as a Christmas song and had no idea that it was written as a thanksgiving piece.

The only book I have with the song version is a Reader's Digest MERRY CHRISTMAS SONGBOOK where the song is attributed to "Traditional" and the words start "Over the river and through the woods To Grandmother's house we go . . ." In the notes section, the editors say that it was a favorite Thanksgiving song but by 1897 was printed in a book of favorite Christmas songs.

It is a wonderful little poem for either season --- and it sings well and easy!