The Harvest Moon
By William Wordsworth
It is the Harvest Moon! On gilded vanes
And roofs of villages, on woodland crests
And their aerial neighborhoods of nests
Deserted, on the curtained window-panes
Of rooms where children sleep, on country lanes
And harvest-fields, its mystic splendor rests!
Gone are the birds that were our summer guests,
With the last sheaves return the laboring wains!
All things are symbols: the external shows
Of Nature have their image in the mind,
As flowers and fruits and falling of the leaves;
The song-birds leave us at the summer’s close,
Only the empty nests are left behind,
And pipings of the quail among the sheaves.
Vinegar may preserve pickles, but it isn’t effective in extending longevity in humans. A common mindset among the aged is gratitude. A sense that life is special and they are grateful for what it has brought them, both good and bad experiences. People who are sour-pusses spoil in their own juices.
A year ago I shared on Fourteenlines on Thanksgiving my favorite poem of gratitude, aptly titled Gratefulness by George Herbert. I shared a shortened version of the poem that I have used for many years as a prayer of gratitude at Thanksgiving. I like it because it is divinity neutral. Regardless of what you believe, everyone should have someone or something for which you are grateful. “Thou that has given so much to me….” is a wonderful way to bring into focus in our minds who we want to thank and give blessings of gratitude to this day.
What is interesting, is last year’s Thanksgiving day blog was read by only a few people on Thanksgiving day. But it has been one of the most read of all my blog entries ever since. The terms grateful, gratitude and gratefulness are consistently some of the most searched terms on search engines that brings people to Fourteenlines. I think that illustrates one of the things I most appreciate about sharing this blog, it reinforces everything good about my fellow travelers and humanity. It is reassuring to know that people from countries all over the world are looking for ways to express gratitude in their lives and looking to poetry to express it elegantly.
This year’s Thanksgiving poems are a little outdated in their language but the words have such a beautiful flow and they are marvelous poems. I have a feeling that many readers of Wordsworth’s poem may not have ever seen a sheave and might not even know what one is. Prior to the invention of diesel-powered combines, grain was swathed and sheaved by hand prior to the grain being threshed or winnowed. It was an enormous amount of work, and one would have been certainly grateful when it was done for the year.
Today I will be gathering with family and friends around a bountiful table. My family and I are truly blessed in all we have, the place that we live, the opportunities we enjoy, the health and well being of those present and those in our thoughts. I will offer the first and last stanzas of the Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s fine poem Thanksgiving as this year’s prayer of gratitude. If you have a favorite prayer or poem of thanksgiving please share it. And if you are in need of one feel free to follow my lead.
By Ella Wheeler Wilcox
We walk on starry fields of white
And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight
To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
Of pleasures sweet and tender.
Our cares are bold and push their way
Upon our thought and feeling.
They hand about us all the day,
Our time from pleasure stealing.
So unobtrusive many a joy
We pass by and forget it,
But worry strives to own our lives,
And conquers if we let it.
There’s not a day in all the year
But holds some hidden pleasure,
And looking back, joys oft appear
To brim the past’s wide measure.
But blessings are like friends, I hold,
Who love and labor near us.
We ought to raise our notes of praise
While living hearts can hear us.
Full many a blessing wears the guise
Of worry or of trouble;
Far-seeing is the soul, and wise,
Who knows the mask is double.
But he who has the faith and strength
To thank his God for sorrow
Has found a joy without alloy
To gladden every morrow.
We ought to make the moments notes
Of happy, glad Thanksgiving;
The hours and days a silent phrase
Of music we are living.
And so the theme should swell and grow
As weeks and months pass o’er us,
And rise sublime at this good time,
A grand Thanksgiving chorus.