The Academy of American Poets, the nation’s leading champion of poets and poetry and the publisher of Poem-a-Day, has curated a special list of poems that are perfect to share at your Thanksgiving table, including “Perhaps the World Ends Here” by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo —the first Native American poet to serve in this esteemed role— which ends:
At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering
and remorse. We give thanks.
Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we
are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.
Here are eight more poems by poets past and present:
What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made
Something greater from the difference.
—Alberto Ríos, “When Giving Is All We Have”
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
—W.S. Merwin, “Thanks”
We thank Him for the darkness that gives us rest, and for the kind Being of the darkness that gives us light, the moon.
We thank Him for the bright spots in the skies that give us signs, the stars.
—Harriet Maxwell Converse, “The Thanksgivings”
My hand, my arm,
make sweeping circles.
Dust climbs the ladder of light.
For this infernal, endless chore,
for these eternal seeds of rain:
Thank you. For dust.
—Marilyn Nelson, “Dusting”
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea.
—Naomi Shihab Nye, “Red Brocade”
Bless each thing on earth until it sickens,
until each ungovernable heart admits: “I confused myself
and yet I loved—and what I loved
I forgot, what I forgot brought glory to my travels,
to you I traveled as close as I dared, Lord.”
—Ilya Kaminsky, “A Toast”
So life lets you have a sandwich, and pie for your
late night dessert. (Pie for the dog, as well.) And
then life sends you back to bed, to dreamland,
while outside, the starfish drift through the channel,
with smiles on their starry faces as they head
out to deep water, to the far and boundless sea.
—Eleanor Lerman, “Starfish”
Take earth for your own large room
and the floor of the earth
carpeted with sunlight
and hung round with silver wind
for your dancing place
—May Swenson, “Earth Your Dancing Place”
About the Academy of American Poets
The Academy of American Poets is the largest membership-based nonprofit organization fostering an appreciation for contemporary poetry and supporting American poets. The organization produces Poets.org, the world’s largest publicly funded website for poets and poetry; originated and organizes National Poetry Month; publishes the popular Poem-a-Day series and American Poets magazine; creates and distributes Teach This Poem and other award-winning resources for K-12 educators; hosts an annual series of poetry readings and special events; and awards the American Poets Prizes. In addition, the Academy of American Poets coordinates a national Poetry Coalition working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. This year the organization has awarded more funds to poets than any other organization, giving a total of $1,250,000 to poets at various stages of their careers.
Reprinted with permission from the Academy of American Poets