THANKSGIVING, by Charles Badger Clark (1883-1957)

“Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.”
…from President Theodore Roosevelt’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1901.


This 1903 photo is captioned, “Cowboys following the train and cheering President Roosevelt, Hugo, Colorado.” It’s from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more about it here.

South Dakota native Charles Badger Clark (1883-1957), who spent some time in Arizona working on an Arizona ranch, became South Dakota’s first Poet Laureate. His best known poem, “A Cowboy’s Prayer,” is filled with gratitude. This one is, too:


Accept my thanks today, O Lord?
But not so much for bed and board?
Those stodgy items of good cheer
I share with chipmunks and with deer?
But rather gifts more fine and fair
That come upon me unaware.

Those priceless incidental things?
Flower fragrance and bird flutterings,
The sudden laughter often caught
From some fantastic kink of tught
A pine’s black fretwork lifted high
Against the tranquil sunset sky,
Kindness from strangers all unnamed
That makes me wholesomely ashamed,
A friend’s warm, understanding eyes,
A book’s communion with the wise,
The dreamful magic of a tune
And slim white birches in the moon?

I thank you, Lord, for daily bread
But I am so much more than fed,
For you, with nought deserved or won,
Indulge me like a favored son,
Flinging profuse along my ways
These jeweled things that deck the day
And make my living far more sweet
Than just to breathe or just to eat.

…by Charles Badger Clark, from Skylines and Wood Smoke (1935), used with the permission of the Badger Clark Memorial Society,

Find more about Badger Clark and more of his poety at

And find more Thanksgiving poems in a feature at

Happy Thanksgiving, all!