Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thanksgiving Poems

As we prepare to gather with family and friends in celebration of Thanksgiving and give thanks for the plentiful food, and wine, arranged before us, we pause to acknowledge the privilege and blessing of calling this country our home.

I turn to my poetry books. Recently I discovered Samuel Menashe.

Samuel Menashe was born in New York City in 1925 to Russian Jewish immigrants. He served in the United States infantry during World War II and fought at the Battle of the Bulge. After taking advantage of the GI bill, he traveled to France and earned his PhD from the Sorbonne. Later he taught poetry and literature at CW Post College. He died in 2011. He is a relatively unknown American poet.

Perhaps reading his poetry might help to remind me of how America has inspired Jews and given rise to untold Jewish creativity. His poems, at times feel playful, but then again religious.

I offer three poems:
Leavetaking
Dusk of the year
Nightfalling leaves
More than we knew
Abounded on trees
We now see through

Hallelujah
Eyes open to praise
The play of light
Upon the ceiling—
While still abed raise
The roof this morning
Rejoice as you please
Your Maker who made
This day while you slept,
Who gives you grace and ease,
Whose promise is kept.
‘Let them sing for joy upon their beds.’— Psalm 149

Now
There is never an end to loss, or hope
I give up the ghost for which I grope
Over and over again saying Amen
To all that does or does not happen—
The eternal event is now, not when.
Each day is indeed a blessing. Every day is an occasion for giving thanks.

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