A Poem for the Holiday: “Thanksgiving Day” by Lydia Maria Child

Nov 24, 2020 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team


One of the most familiar poems associated with Thanksgiving is this one, “Thanksgiving Day” by Lydia Maria Child. Interestingly, there are two versions of the poem. The shorter version is presented below, but there’s also a longer version called “The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day.”

Child was born in 1802 and lived through much of the turbulent nineteenth century, dying at the age of seventy-eight in 1880. As a person who abhorred slavery and who worked diligently as an abolitionist, she wrote much about the topic. Her book An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans, published in 1833, was the first American overview of the detestable institution (“Lydia Maria Child”).

Histories weren’t her only genres though. She also penned children’s books, novels, books about home management and childrearing, and, of course, poems. As you read the poem below, notice her use of five-senses words and the poem’s meter, which entices the reader to feel almost as if he is going along for the sleigh ride. Be sure to share it with your students!


Thanksgiving Day
by Lydia Maria Child

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,
And straight through the barn-yard 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 the pumpkin-pie!

As you read through the poem, did you perhaps hum a tune? Some time after it was crafted, the poem was set to music. If you would like to hear it performed, check out this beautiful version sung by the Tabernacle Choir.


Whether you are driving over the river and through the wood or simply keeping in touch through the Internet to spend the holiday with your loved ones, all of us at IEW wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving!


                                                                                     Works Cited
“Lydia Maria Child.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org.

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