by Charles Badger Clark (1883-1957)
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 thought
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
South Dakota native Charles Badger Clark worked as a ranch hand in Arizona ranch and became the first South Dakota Poet Laureate. His father was a minister; his poems often express gratitude. “A Cowboy’s Prayer” is the best known. This one is likewise full of grace. Find more at CowboyPoetry.com.
This photo is of Badger Clark and his friend and fellow poet, Bob Axtel (1887-1976). The photo, by Charles Axtel, is from Arizona historian Greg Scott’s Cowboy Poetry, Classic Poems & Prose by Badger Clark. The book includes all of Badger Clark’s short stories; poetry, including more than two dozen previously unpublished or long out-of-print poems; essays; letters; and photos. See our feature about the book, and another about Axtel.
The South Dakota Historical Society Foundation holds Badger Clark’s papers and offers his books for sale.
Find Thanksgiving poems and more at CowboyPoetry.com.
(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photo with this post. The poem is in the public domain. Request permission for any other use of the photo.)