Thursday, November 26, 2015

Two drumsticks and a wishbone: A Thanksgiving Hymn on Themes of Robert Frost

This one day devoted to Gratitude
May not be enough to establish the mood,
Especially since sages are sure it's allied
With all the insatiable urgings of Pride.

We turn now to one of them, dear Robert Frost,
Who never rejoiced without counting the cost:
The ambivalence of his "The Road Not Taken"
Pride and gratitude contend when we sit down to this.
Can leave almost anyone's confidence shaken.

How grateful was he for the choice of two ways?
How deep were his sighs for unknowable days
That might have been happy, or perhaps not so much?
Who rightly decides for the best in the clutch?

It's certain that thankfulness had little chance
To trip the fantastic in this doubtful dance
As, near poem's end, "I" gets up twice alone
To declare that his Pride can cavort on its own:

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
"I took the one less traveled by."
The chest swells just slightly, all doubt set aside,
And the hike through the woods begins hitting its stride.

Robert Frost
So let us think now, as we turn to our feasts,
That what separates us for sure from the beasts
Is a mixture of Gratitude that makes us feel good
And Pride, which will always take more than it should.

Their value to us means division of labor —
Let's celebrate both with pipe, horn, and tabor:
The grandma cooks turkey, the grandfather carves;
If Pride is not satisfied, Gratitude starves.

To be truly thankful, we must work on our needs,
Feel proud of ourselves. On this everyone feeds:
Sometimes false, sometimes true, at bottom there's Pride.
So, as Frost advised elsewhere: 'Provide, provide!"