The Ladies' Tea Guild

Friday, November 28, 2008

Emily Dickinson Thanksgiving poem

In a previous post, we read how Sarah J. Hale, the editor of the now-unpublished Godey's Lady's Book, encouraged all Americans to celebrate Thanksgiving every year, and to honor the holiday with literary works. Several Americans did so, including a few famous poets who are still known today. One poem that I always forget to associate with Thanksgiving is the one by Lydia Maria Child known as "Over the River and Through the Woods," although its official title is "A New England Child's Thanksgiving Day," or perhaps just "Thanksgiving Day." As in, "Over the river and through the wood/to Grandmother's house we go;/The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh/through the white and drifted snow."

A more famous poet after her death than she ever was during her life, Emily Dickinson, whom the South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild remembered with a tea and poetry reading in her honor this past May, also left us with a Thanksgiving poem:

One Day is there of the Series
One Day is there of the Series
Termed Thanksgiving Day.
Celebrated part at Table
Part in Memory.
Neither Patriarch nor Pussy
I dissect the Play
Seems it to my Hooded thinking
Reflex Holiday.
Had there been no sharp Subtraction
From the early Sum–
Not an Acre or a Caption
Where was once a Room–
Not a Mention, whose small Pebble
Wrinkled any Sea,
Unto Such, were such Assembly
‘Twere Thanksgiving Day.
-- by Emily Dickinson

I find her work interesting, even if I don't always know quite what she's talking about!

On another note, regarding the mincemeat cookie recipe I posted a little while ago, you may need to read the ingredient listing on your mincemeat if you plan to make this recipe and have dietary issues. For those who don't know, mincemeat is a spicy, sweet, tangy mixture of dried fruits, citrus peel, sugar, vinegar, spices and (traditionally), alcohol and small bits of cooked meat. It is most popularly used to make pies and tarts. Some brands of store-bought mincemeat contain actual meat, and others don't; also, some mincemeat contains alcohol (rum or brandy) and some doesn't. If this is an issue for you, it may be safer to look up a recipe for mincemeat that fits your dietary requirements (or can be adjusted to do so) and make your own. The presence of meat or alcohol is not a necessary part of mincemeat, although it is traditional.

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)