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The Pumpkin -- John Greenleaf Whittier

U.S. Thanksgiving Day guest poem sent in by Vidur
(Poem #1119) The Pumpkin
 Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,
 The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,
 And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,
 With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold,
 Like that which o'er Nineveh's prophet once grew,
 While he waited to know that his warning was true,
 And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain
 For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain.

 On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden
 Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden;
 And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold
 Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold;
 Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North,
 On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth,
 Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines,
 And the sun of September melts down on his vines.

 Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
 >From North and from South come the pilgrim and guest,
 When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
 The old broken links of affection restored,
 When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
 And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before,
 What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye?
 What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

 Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,
 When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
 When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
 Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
 When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,
 Our chair a broad pumpkin,--our lantern the moon,
 Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam,
 In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!

 Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
 E'er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!
 Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,
 Brighter eyes never watched o'er its baking, than thine!
 And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
 Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
 That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
 And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
 And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
 Golden-tinted and fair as thy own pumpkin pie!
-- John Greenleaf Whittier
thanksgiving is here. quite a big deal for those of us in the united states.
what i love about this holiday, even more than having a 4-day weekend, even
more than getting together with friends and family, is pumpkin pie!

no, really. i mean, why bother with the almost-tasteless turkey and mashed
potatoes. why not just go straight to the pie?!

in fact, i think pumpkin pie is the best thing to come out of america.
seriously. i thought long and hard, and couldn't come up with any other
truly american thing that's even close. pumpkin cheesecake, maybe. but that
still comes second.

so here's a poem that is an ode to *the* pie, written by a 19th century
american poet, john greenleaf whittier. (well, it's obviously much more than
an ode, but it works well as one). i rather like the way the poem traces the
life of a pumpkin from the vine to the oven, touching upon universal themes
of childhood, love and family.

"and the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less"

amen.

V-

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