On Thanksgiving, we reflect on the things and the people for which we are grateful. In honor of this tradition, we asked 20-year-old Amanda Gorman, the inaugural Youth Poet Laureate of the U.S., to write a poem about what the holiday means to her.
“The Republic Gives Thanks”
In 1863, deep in the Civil War’s magnitude,
Abraham Lincoln called declared a day of gratitude
Shared by one heart and one voice of America.
A proclamation for a nation in a nightmare,
This Thanksgiving dared Americans
To chime their thanks at a time many believed
That they had no thanks to give.
Yet is this quirky day now about turkey?
About a plate full of food?
Or is it about being grateful
In more than just attitude?
The Haudenosaunee/Iroquois remind us
With one mind, to find the words
That come before all else,
because to give thanks is to live it.
It’s not just in speech,
But in each of our daily actions.
It’s reaching across divisions towards a
Vision of a long, strong house and table
Where we’re able to gather together.
If we dream past pilgrims
and the mast of the Mayflower,
It may empower us to bravely learn
From the People of the First Light,
To return to Lincoln’s fight,
To furnish our might by uniting around
Any piece of peace, no matter how small.
We still hear all these first teachers,
Called by the will of those still here on this earth,
Like the Wampanoag, who show us the worthiest
Way to give thanks for our blessings
Isn’t to hog them, but to give them away.
It’s then, full of this feeling,
That healing can begin, because maybe
To be American is to be a kin
To a courageous hope:
The trust that even if just for a moment
We can, we must, close rank as people,
One heart, one voice, one mind, created equal.
Like two vessels meeting at a riverbank anew
Under the sky’s greeting of bright, blank blue,
You’ll begin beside the people who flank you.
We come to these words before and above all dreams,
Saying with more love and restored meaning: Thank you.
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