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The Pumpkin
by
John Greenleaf Whittier


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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 comes 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!

This poem is in the public domain.

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John Greenleaf Whittier (1807 - 1892) was one of the "Fireside Poets," called such because their work was popular enough to be read (ostensibly by the fire) in homes all over America. And Whittier was one of those rare poets who actually made a rather comfortable living from the proceeds of his work. Born into a Massachusetts farm family, Whittier was introduced to poetry by one of his school teachers. An avid reader and writer early on, Whittier spent much of his working life as an editor, though he had political aspirations as well. He was a staunch abolitionist, and produced two collections of anti-slavery poems, along with an anti-slavery pamphlet that managed to incur the wrath of both sides and effectively any hopes Whittier had of a political career. Critical opinion on the value of Whittier's poetry is mixed. Some dismiss it as overly emotional, while others believe the heartfelt simplicity is precisely its appeal.


New comments are closed for now.
rhonasheridan:
xx
Posted 03/07/2014 12:40 PM
69Dorcas:
Thank you for posting Whittier. I love him. How I wish I could penn even a small bit as he
Posted 11/25/2011 07:21 AM
Nissepete:
Thanks for this. I posted riley's "when the frost is on the punkin." next year I'll have this too a wonderful poem. Thanks nils peterson
Posted 11/24/2011 09:45 AM
Donna Pflueger:
Oh Jayne! "...the crook-neck are coiling and the wood grapes were purpling..." What a wonderful poem for today and what a rich and delicious ending. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
Posted 11/24/2011 07:48 AM
Donna Pflueger:

Posted 11/24/2011 07:44 AM


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