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THE FIRST THANKSGIVING DAY [1621], by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: And now,' said the governor, gazing abroad
Last Line: "he muttered, ""the good great spirit loves his white children best!"
Subject(s): Bradford, William (1590-1657); Brewster, William (1560-1644); Holidays; Massasoit (d. 1661); Standish, Miles (1584-1656); Thanksgiving Day

"AND now," said the Governor, gazing abroad on the piled-up store
Of the sheaves that dotted the clearings and covered the meadows o'er,
"'T is meet that we render praises because of this yield of grain;
'T is meet that the Lord of the harvest be thanked for His
sun and rain.

"And therefore, I, William Bradford (by the grace of God to-day,
And the franchise of this good people), Governor of Plymouth, say,
Through virtue of vested power -- ye shall gather with one accord,
And hold, in the month November, thanksgiving unto the Lord.

"He hath granted us peace and plenty, and the quiet we've
sought so long;
He hath thwarted the wily savage, and kept him from wrack and wrong;
And unto our feast the Sachem shall be bidden, that he may know
We worship his own Great Spirit who maketh the harvests grow.

"So shoulder your matchlocks, masters: there is hunting of
all degrees;
And fishermen, take your tackle, and scour for spoil the seas;
And maidens and dames of Plymouth, your delicate crafts employ
To honor our First Thanksgiving, and make it a feast of joy!

"We fail of the fruits and dainties -- we fail of the old home cheer;
Ah, these are the lightest losses, mayhap, that befall us here;
But see, in our open clearings, how golden the melons lie;
Enrich them with sweets and spices, and give us the pumpkin-pie!"

So, bravely the preparations went on for the autumn feast;
The deer and the bear were slaughtered; wild game from the
greatest to least
Was heaped in the colony cabins; brown home-brew served for wine,
And the plum and the grape of the forest, for orange and
peach and pine.

At length came the day appointed: the snow had begun to fall,
But the clang from the meeting-house belfry rang merrily over all,
And summoned the folk of Plymouth, who hastened with glad accord
To listen to Elder Brewster as he fervently thanked the Lord.

In his seat sate Governor Bradford; men, matrons, and maidens fair;
Miles Standish and all his soldiers, with corselet and
sword, were there;
And sobbing and tears and gladness had each in its turn the sway,
For the grave of the sweet Rose Standish o'ershadowed
Thanksgiving Day.

And when Massasoit, the Sachem, sate down with his hundred braves,
And ate of the varied riches of gardens and woods and waves,
And looked on the granaried harvest, -- with a blow on his
brawny chest,
He muttered, "The good Great Spirit loves His white children best!"

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