‘Thanksgiving‘ by Edgar Albert Guest vividly captures the essence of familial togetherness and gratitude. Through joyful gatherings, shared laughter, and expressions of love, the poem conveys the timelessness of traditions. As family members reunite under the same roof, the passage of time is acknowledged with affectionate references to aging parents.
The poem contrasts the authenticity of familial connections with the superficiality of city life, emphasizing the heartfelt conversations and genuine interactions that thrive during the holiday. Overall, the poem radiates warmth, nostalgia, and the deep significance of being together.
Thanksgiving Edgar Albert GuestGettin’ together to smile an’ rejoice,An’ eatin’ an’ laughin’ with folks of your choice;An’ kissin’ the girls an’ declarin’ that theyAre growin’ more beautiful day after day;Chattin’ an’ braggin’ a bit with the men,Buildin’ the old family circle again;Livin’ the wholesome an’ old-fashioned cheer,Just for awhile at the end of the year.Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the doorAnd under the old roof we gather once moreJust as we did when the youngsters were small;Mother’s a little bit grayer, that’s all.Father’s a little bit older, but stillReady to romp an’ to laugh with a will.Here we are back at the table againTellin’ our stories as women an’ men.Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer;Oh, but we’re grateful an’ glad to be there.Home from the east land an’ home from the west,Home with the folks that are dearest an’ best.Out of the sham of the cities afarWe’ve come for a time to be just what we are.Here we can talk of ourselves an’ be frank,Forgettin’ position an’ station an’ rank.Give me the end of the year an’ its funWhen most of the plannin’ an’ toilin’ is done;Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,Let me sit down with the ones I love best,Hear the old voices still ringin’ with song,See the old faces unblemished by wrong,See the old table with all of its chairsAn’ I’ll put soul in my Thanksgivin’ prayers.
‘Thanksgiving‘ by Edgar Albert Guest captures the essence of coming together with loved ones to celebrate, express gratitude, and revel in the joy of shared moments.
The poem paints a vivid picture of a heartwarming gathering where smiles, laughter, and connections abound. The act of uniting with family and friends for a feast and merriment is central, a time for affectionate gestures, including kissing and expressions of admiration for the beauty of women. The camaraderie extends to chatting and exchanging stories with men, rebuilding the cherished bonds of the family circle, and evoking a sense of wholesomeness and traditional joy that characterize this yearly occasion.
As the participants gather under the familiar roof, reminiscent of when the children were young, the aging of parents is noticeable yet embraced. Despite the passage of time, the spirit of playfulness and laughter remains intact, a testament to the enduring bond among the family members. The reunion at the table becomes a platform for sharing anecdotes and experiences, where individuals, both women and men, engage in open conversations free from societal roles and distinctions.
The poem emphasizes a moment of prayerful gratitude as heads are bowed in appreciation. The contrast between the bustling urban life and the intimate family gathering is palpable, underlining the genuine desire to return to one’s authentic self and cherish unfiltered interactions. The year’s end, when laborious planning subsides, emerges as a time of respite and joy. It beckons wanderers home, fostering a desire to be enveloped in the nurturing embrace of family. The poem fondly envisions old voices resounding with song, unmarred by misdeeds, and familiar faces radiating an untainted purity.
The closing stanza underscores the longing for the culmination of the year, symbolizing Thanksgiving. The prospect of being seated at the table surrounded by cherished family members amplifies the soul’s connection with the spirit of gratitude. In this heartfelt gathering, the poem encapsulates the sentiment of thanksgiving, where love, connection, and shared experiences culminate, emphasizing the profound significance of being together during this special time.
Structure and Form
‘Thanksgiving‘ by Edgar Albert Guest follows a structured form with four octaves, each consisting of eight lines. The consistent AABBCCDD rhyming scheme establishes a rhythmic pattern that guides the reader through the poem’s narrative. This structured approach aids in creating a sense of harmony and order, mirroring the themes of togetherness and tradition emphasized within the poem. The rhythmic consistency contributes to the poem’s musicality, engaging the reader’s senses and drawing them into the experience.
In the first stanza, the poet introduces the concept of gathering for Thanksgiving, presenting the themes of smiling, rejoicing, eating, laughing, and choosing companionship. This sets the tone for the subsequent stanzas, highlighting the emotional core of the poem. The AABB rhyme scheme creates a steady, predictable flow that mirrors the familiar comfort of family traditions.
The second stanza continues the AABBCCDD rhyme scheme, delving into the imagery of kissing girls and expressing admiration for their increasing beauty. This stanza contrasts the male perspective in chatting and bragging, maintaining a balanced structure that reflects the interplay of genders and roles within the family circle.
Transitioning to the third stanza, the poem’s form maintains its consistency with the AABBCCDD rhyme scheme. This stanza delves deeper into the experience of returning home and reuniting under the old roof. The descriptions of graying parents and older fathers are conveyed with a tone of acceptance and affection, emphasizing the passage of time within the familial context.
The final stanza, also following the AABBCCDD rhyme scheme, encapsulates the essence of the poem. It highlights the longing for the end of the year, the culmination of planning and toil, and the yearning to reunite with loved ones. This stanza sums up the poem’s core themes of homecoming, gratitude, and shared moments.
The structured form of “Thanksgiving” reinforces the poem’s content by establishing a steady rhythm that mirrors the comforting cadence of family gatherings and celebrations. The consistent AABBCCDD rhyme scheme throughout each octave not only provides a sense of balance and symmetry but also enhances the overall musicality of the poem. Through this structured form, the poet effectively captures the essence of familial togetherness and the joy of shared moments during Thanksgiving.
Edgar Albert Guest’s poem ‘Thanksgiving‘ addresses several themes that revolve around family gatherings, gratitude, tradition, and the passage of time. These themes are illustrated through various elements of the poem.
Family Togetherness: The poem highlights the theme of family unity by depicting the joy of coming together for Thanksgiving. Lines like “Gettin’ together to smile an’ rejoice” emphasize the warm atmosphere of shared laughter and companionship. The recurring mention of gathering under the “old roof” and rebuilding the “old family circle” underscores the importance of familial bonds.
Gratitude and Appreciation: The theme of gratitude is central, evident in lines such as “Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer.” The act of giving thanks before the meal signifies a sense of appreciation for blessings and the people gathered. The expression of gratitude extends to the act of being able to unite with loved ones, regardless of distance.
Passage of Time: The poem subtly addresses the theme of time’s passage and its effects on family dynamics. Descriptions of parents growing older and children’s transition into adulthood capture the fleeting nature of moments. Lines like “Mother’s a little bit grayer, that’s all” acknowledge the inevitability of change.
Tradition and Nostalgia: The theme of tradition is woven through the poem as it portrays the timeless rituals of Thanksgiving gatherings. The repetition of phrases like “old-fashioned cheer” and “old table with all of its chairs” evoke a sense of nostalgia for the familiar customs that define the occasion.
Gender Roles and Interactions: The poem subtly touches on gender roles and interactions within the family setting. It portrays men and women engaging in distinct yet complementary activities, such as chatting and bragging for men and expressing admiration for women’s beauty.
Simplicity and Authenticity: The poem conveys the theme of simplicity and authenticity in familial interactions. Lines like “Here we can talk of ourselves an’ be frank” emphasize the genuine conversations that occur when societal positions and ranks are momentarily set aside.
Through these thematic elements, Edgar Albert Guest crafts a portrayal of Thanksgiving that encompasses the emotional depth of family connections, the resonance of tradition, and the profound significance of gratitude in the midst of life’s changing seasons.
Edgar Albert Guest employs various literary devices in his poem ‘Thanksgiving‘ to effectively convey his message of familial unity, gratitude, and tradition.
- Imagery: Guest uses vivid imagery to paint a picture of the Thanksgiving gathering. Phrases like “kissin’ the girls” and “old family circle” evoke images of affection and familial bonds.
- Repetition: The repetition of the phrase “Here we are back at the table again” emphasizes the cyclical nature of the family gathering, reinforcing the tradition and the comforting familiarity of the occasion.
- Symbolism: The “old roof” and the “old table with all of its chairs” symbolize the continuity of tradition, representing the enduring values and memories tied to family celebrations.
- Alliteration: The use of alliteration, such as “smile an’ rejoice,” “Chattin’ an’ braggin’,” and “position an’ station an’ rank,” adds a musical quality to the poem, enhancing its rhythmic flow.
- Contrast: The contrast between the bustling “sham of the cities afar” and the genuine interactions within the family gathering underscores the authenticity and significance of being together.
- Personification: The lines “Father’s a little bit older, but still / Ready to romp an’ to laugh with a will” personify the father figure, portraying him as lively and joyful despite aging.
- Parallelism: The repetition of the phrase “Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer” creates a parallel structure that emphasizes the collective act of gratitude.
- Rhyme Scheme: The consistent AABBCCDD rhyme scheme establishes a rhythmic pattern that mirrors the predictability and harmony of family traditions.
- Enjambment: Guest uses enjambment to maintain the flow of thought across lines, such as “Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the door / And under the old roof we gather once more,” enhancing the poem’s fluidity.
- Metaphor: The phrase “Give me the end of the year an’ its fun” metaphorically represents the culmination of efforts and the joyous gathering of loved ones.
By skillfully incorporating these literary devices, Edgar Albert Guest crafts a poem that not only conveys his message but also adds depth, emotion, and resonance to the themes of family, gratitude, and tradition.
Gettin’ together to smile an’ rejoice,
An’ eatin’ an’ laughin’ with folks of your choice;
An’ kissin’ the girls an’ declarin’ that they
Are growin’ more beautiful day after day;
Chattin’ an’ braggin’ a bit with the men,
Buildin’ the old family circle again;
Livin’ the wholesome an’ old-fashioned cheer,
Just for awhile at the end of the year
The first stanza of Edgar Albert Guest’s poem ‘Thanksgiving‘ sets the tone for the entire poem, encapsulating the core message of familial togetherness, joy, and tradition during the holiday season.
The stanza opens with the phrase “Gettin’ together to smile an’ rejoice,” immediately conveying the central idea of coming together as a family to experience happiness and celebration. The colloquial language and contraction (“Gettin’”) create an informal, inviting tone, suggesting a sense of warmth and familiarity that characterizes family gatherings. The act of “smile an’ rejoice” encapsulates the emotional essence of the occasion, emphasizing the shared joy and happiness that result from this reunion.
The stanza proceeds to describe the physical and emotional experiences of the gathering. The lines “An’ eatin’ an’ laughin’ with folks of your choice” present the simple yet profound act of sharing a meal and laughter with chosen loved ones. The deliberate mention of “folks of your choice” emphasizes the deliberate selection of companionship, underscoring the voluntary nature of the assembly and reinforcing the idea that Thanksgiving is a time of reuniting with those closest to the heart.
The stanza continues with a touch of romance and admiration, as the poet describes “kissin’ the girls” and declaring that they are “growin’ more beautiful day after day.” This sentiment not only portrays a sense of affection but also adds a lighthearted tone to the stanza, evoking a sense of playful teasing that often accompanies family gatherings.
“Chattin’ an’ braggin’ a bit with the men” adds a layer of camaraderie and male bonding to the scene. The informal language, “chattin’” and “braggin’,” captures the easygoing and informal conversations that occur among family members. This also highlights the gender dynamics within the gathering, showing how men engage in light-hearted banter.
As the stanza progresses, it introduces the idea of “Buildin’ the old family circle again,” emphasizing the cyclical nature of the reunion. The use of “old” signifies the continuity of tradition, implying that this gathering is part of a long-standing practice that brings generations together.
The closing lines of the stanza, “Livin’ the wholesome an’ old-fashioned cheer, Just for awhile at the end of the year,” encapsulates the overarching message. The emphasis on “wholesome” and “old-fashioned cheer” suggests a return to values and traditions that evoke a sense of comfort and authenticity. The phrase “Just for awhile at the end of the year” hints at the temporary nature of the gathering, underscoring its preciousness and the need to cherish these moments.
In essence, the first stanza of the poem encapsulates the themes of family, joy, tradition, and the fleeting nature of precious moments. It conveys the idea that Thanksgiving is a time when people deliberately come together to revel in each other’s company, rekindling connections and embracing a sense of shared happiness.
Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the door
And under the old roof we gather once more
Just as we did when the youngsters were small;
Mother’s a little bit grayer, that’s all.
Father’s a little bit older, but still
Ready to romp an’ to laugh with a will.
Here we are back at the table again
Tellin’ our stories as women an’ men.
The second stanza of ‘Thanksgiving‘ continues to develop the themes of familial reunion, the passage of time, and the enduring spirit of togetherness.
The stanza opens with the image of “Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the door,” creating a sense of excitement and anticipation as family members enthusiastically embrace each other’s presence. The use of the word “fly” conveys a dynamic and lively atmosphere, suggesting the rapid exchange of affectionate greetings.
As the stanza progresses, it describes the act of gathering “under the old roof” once more, drawing attention to the physical space that holds memories of previous family gatherings. This line subtly emphasizes the continuity of tradition, anchoring the present moment within a larger context of shared history.
A nostalgic tone emerges as the stanza reflects on the past, comparing the current gathering to times “when the youngsters were small.” This reference to childhood evokes a sense of nostalgia and hints at the passage of time. The contrast between the present and the past highlights the growth and evolution of the family members.
The stanza introduces the changing appearances of the parents with the lines, “Mother’s a little bit grayer, that’s all. Father’s a little bit older, but still.” These lines convey the inevitable effects of aging, but they do so with a sense of acceptance and tenderness. The mention of the father’s readiness “to romp an’ to laugh with a will” underscores the enduring spirit of playfulness and joy despite the passage of time.
The stanza then captures the essence of the family gathering with the phrase, “Here we are back at the table again.” This line reiterates the cyclical nature of the reunion, portraying the table as a symbol of togetherness and shared experiences.
“Tellin’ our stories as women an’ men” encapsulates the heart of the stanza. The act of sharing stories transcends gender distinctions, highlighting the universal nature of storytelling within the familial context. This emphasizes the idea that everyone, regardless of gender, contributes to the collective narrative of the family.
In essence, the second stanza reinforces the themes of tradition, time, and shared experiences. It portrays the family’s ability to come together across generations, adapting to change while preserving the essence of love, laughter, and connection. The stanza’s depiction of aging parents and the ever-present spirit of merriment underscores the poem’s core message of cherishing the bonds that transcend time.
Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer;
Oh, but we’re grateful an’ glad to be there.
Home from the east land an’ home from the west,
Home with the folks that are dearest an’ best.
Out of the sham of the cities afar
We’ve come for a time to be just what we are.
Here we can talk of ourselves an’ be frank,
Forgettin’ position an’ station an’ rank.
The third stanza of Edgar Guest’s poem delves into the themes of gratitude, authenticity, and the contrast between urban life and familial connections.
The stanza begins with a moment of reflection and introspection as the poet describes how heads are “bowed… in prayer.” This imagery suggests a collective pause for gratitude, marking a solemn acknowledgment of the blessings that the family has come together to celebrate. The act of bowing one’s head is symbolic of humility and reverence.
The stanza then transitions to express the emotions of gratitude and joy with the lines “Oh, but we’re grateful an’ glad to be there.” This direct statement reflects the depth of appreciation for the opportunity to gather, reinforcing the central message of thanksgiving. The repetition of the contraction “an’” contributes to the informal and heartfelt tone of the stanza.
The stanza emphasizes the geographical reunion of family members by describing them as being “Home from the east land an’ home from the west.” This phrasing conveys the idea of individuals coming from different directions to converge in a central location, underlining the significance of being together for this occasion.
The concept of being “Home with the folks that are dearest an’ best” reinforces the idea of choosing companionship with loved ones. This line underscores the emotional connections that surpass mere geographical proximity, highlighting the depth of familial bonds.
The stanza then shifts focus to the urban environment with the phrase “Out of the sham of the cities afar.” This contrasts the authenticity of the family gathering with the insincerity and artificiality that can characterize city life. This contrast serves to emphasize the authenticity, genuine conversations, and emotional openness that the family gathering affords.
The lines “We’ve come for a time to be just what we are” express the freedom to be oneself without societal pretenses or pressures. This suggests that within the family circle, individuals can shed societal roles and simply be who they are, fostering a sense of comfort and belonging.
The final lines, “Here we can talk of ourselves an’ be frank, / Forgettin’ position an’ station an’ rank,” emphasize the informality and honesty of interactions within the family setting. The contrast between “position an’ station an’ rank” and the freedom to “be frank” highlights the temporary suspension of external expectations during this heartfelt gathering.
In sum, the third stanza of the poem delves into the themes of gratitude, authenticity, and the transformative power of familial connections. It contrasts the sincerity of the family reunion with the artifice of urban life, underscoring the significance of being able to share unfiltered moments of vulnerability and connection with loved ones.
Give me the end of the year an’ its fun
When most of the plannin’ an’ toilin’ is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin’ with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An’ I’ll put soul in my Thanksgivin’ prayers.
The fourth and final stanza of ‘Thanksgiving‘ encapsulates the poem’s core message of cherishing familial connections, gratitude, and the value of shared moments.
The stanza opens with a plea: “Give me the end of the year an’ its fun.” This signifies the desire for the culmination of the year, a time when the year’s efforts and endeavors are winding down and the spirit of festivity is in the air. This anticipation sets the stage for the stanza’s expression of longing.
The lines “When most of the plannin’ an’ toilin’ is done” evoke a sense of relief and relaxation that comes as tasks are completed and the year’s labor begins to ease. This phrase emphasizes the contrast between the busy, industrious periods of the year and the impending respite of the holiday season.
The stanza then pivots to the central image of bringing “all the wanderers home to the nest.” This imagery portrays the family as a haven, a place where individuals can find refuge and belonging. The use of “wanderers” implies that family members might have been dispersed, but they are drawn back together for this special occasion.
The lines “Let me sit down with the ones I love best” echo the sentiment of choosing companionship with those who hold a special place in the heart. The emphasis on “love best” reinforces the significance of connecting with the most cherished individuals.
The stanza continues to paint a vivid picture with the lines “Hear the old voices still ringin’ with song, / See the old faces unblemished by wrong.” This imagery conjures a sense of nostalgia and purity, suggesting that within the family setting, the passage of time has not eroded the positivity and warmth of relationships.
The reference to the “old table with all of its chairs” harks back to the symbol of togetherness introduced earlier in the poem. This line conveys the idea of the table as a gathering place, a space where generations come together to share meals, stories, and laughter.
The stanza concludes with the poignant statement, “An’ I’ll put soul in my Thanksgivin’ prayers.” This final line encapsulates the emotional depth of the poet’s gratitude. The act of putting “soul” into thanksgiving prayers conveys the profound connection between the poet’s innermost feelings and the sentiment of gratitude expressed during this familial gathering.
In sum, the fourth stanza serves as the culmination of the poem’s themes. It encapsulates the longing for togetherness, the cherished bonds of family, and the heartfelt gratitude that permeates the occasion. The stanza’s imagery and emotional resonance encapsulate the message that Thanksgiving is a time to come together, reflect on blessings, and celebrate the enduring connections that enrich our lives.
The poet is interested in the subject matter of ‘Thanksgiving’ because it allows them to explore the themes of family togetherness, gratitude, tradition, and the passage of time. The occasion provides a poignant backdrop to reflect on the significance of reuniting with loved ones and cherishing shared moments.
The tone is warm, nostalgic, and celebratory. The poet’s language and imagery convey a sense of affection, gratitude, and a deep appreciation for the meaningful connections that are rekindled during the holiday gathering.
The meaning of ‘Thanksgiving‘ is the act of coming together with family and friends to express gratitude for blessings and shared experiences while also honoring tradition and celebrating the bonds that tie individuals to one another.
The poem elicits emotions of nostalgia, warmth, affection, gratitude, and a sense of belonging. It evokes a deep longing for familial connections and highlights the tender emotions associated with reuniting with loved ones.
Readers who enjoyed this poem by Edgar Albert Guest may also want to read these other poems:
- ‘Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter’ by John Crowe Ransom is an elegy for Whiteside’s daughter, a young girl who passed away suddenly.
- ‘Anecdote for Fathers’ by William Wordsworth is an insightful poem about the wisdom of children. It brings the reader’s attention to a young boy’s observations about the world.
- ‘Come Up from the Fields Father’ by Walt Whitman is a moving war-time poem. Through its lines, the poet addresses the effect of a son’s death on his family.