The First Thanksgiving Day

In Puritan New England a year had passed away
Since first beside the Plymouth coast the English Mayflower lay,
When Bradford, the good Governor, sent fowlers forth to snare
The turkey and the wild-fowl, to increase the scanty fare: —

"Our husbandry hath prospered, there is corn enough for food,
Though the peas be parched in blossom, and the grain indifferent good.
Who blessed the loaves and fishes for the feast miraculous,
And filled the widow's cruse, He hath remembered us!

"Give thanks unto the Lord of Hosts, by whom we all are fed,
Who granted us our daily prayer, 'Give us our daily bread!'
By us and by our children let this day be kept for aye,
In memory of His bounty, as the land's Thanksgiving Day."

Each brought his share of Indian meal the pious feast to make,
With the fat deer from the forest and the wild fowl from the brake.
And chanted hymn and prayer were raised — though eyes with tears were dim —
"The Lord He hath remembered us, let us remember Him!"

Then Bradford stood up at their head and lifted up his voice:
"The corn is gathered from the field, I call you to rejoice;
Thank God for all His mercies, from the greatest to the least,
Together we have fasted , friends, together let us feast .

"The Lord who led forth Israel was with us in the waste:
Sometime in light, sometime in cloud, before us He hath paced;
Now give Him thanks, and pray to Him who holds us in His hand
To prosper us and make of this a strong and mighty land!"

From Plymouth to the Golden Gate to-day their children tread,
The mercies of that bounteous Hand upon the land are shed;
The "flocks are on a thousand hill," the prairies wave with grain,
The cities spring like mushrooms now where once was desert-plain.

Heap high the board with plenteous cheer and gather to the feast,
And toast that sturdy Pilgrim band whose courage never ceased.
Give praise to that All Gracious One by whom their steps were led,
And thanks unto the harvest's Lord who sends our "daily bread."
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