A Thanksgiving Poem

"With incense sweet our thanks ascend..."

  • The sun hath shed its kindly light,
  • Our harvesting is gladly o’er
  • Our fields have felt no killing blight,
  • Our bins are filled with goodly store.
  • From pestilence, fire, flood, and sword
  • We have been spared by thy decree,
  • And now with humble hearts, O Lord,
  • We come to pay our thanks to thee.
  • We feel that had our merits been
  • The measure of thy gifts to us,
  • We erring children, born of sin,
  • Might not now be rejoicing thus.
  • No deed of ours hath brought us grace;
  • When thou were nigh our sight was dull,
  • We hid in trembling from thy face,
  • But thou, O God, wert merciful.
  • Thy mighty hand o’er all the land
  • Hath still been open to bestow
  • Those blessings which our wants demand
  • From heaven, whence all blessings flow.
  • Thou hast, with ever watchful eye,
  • Looked down on us with holy care,
  • And from thy storehouse in the sky
  • Hast scattered plenty everywhere.
  • Then lift we up our songs of praise
  • To thee, O Father, good and kind;
  • To thee we consecrate our days;
  • Be thine the temple of each mind.
  • With incense sweet our thanks ascend;
  • Before thy works our powers pall;
  • Though we should strive years without end,
  • We could not thank thee for them all.

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906) was an American poet, novelist, and playwright. Born in Dayton, Ohio, to parents who had been slaves in Kentucky prior to the Civil War, he was one of the first black poets to achieve international literary fame. While he enjoyed a reputation as an accomplished poet during his lifetime, his work received renewed interest after the Harlem Renaissance in 1931, which led to an outpouring of black writers such as Langston Hughes (1902–1967) and Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960). He wrote the lyrics for the first Broadway musical to feature an all–African-American cast, Dahomey, which made its debut in 1903. In the midst of his developing talent and at the height of his fame, he succumbed to tuberculosis at the age of 33.

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