In the weeks that she has been in the honorary role of Plymouth Young City Laureate, Olivia Templeton has undertaken a range of commissions on behalf of Plymouth City Council, engaging in commemorations and celebrations across the city.
Today, on the day that Thanksgiving is celebrated in America, Olivia has written a poem, which in standing tradition is shared by the Plymouth City Council with children and young people in Plymouth, Massachusetts. We share it here.
The First Thanksgivings
On the first American Thanksgiving of 1621
Pilgrims and Natives feasted through three days worth of sun
It was thanks for the successful harvest they had planned
And for safely setting foot upon dry land.
Squanto, a Wampanoag, taught them to catch eel
Massasoit, Squanto’s leader, brought the Pilgrim’s warming meals
It’s thanks for them being kept healthy and good
And for keeping them through winter, to enter adulthood.
The second, first American Thanksgiving of 1623
was the first civil recognition, New England would agree
It followed a fast and a fourteen day rain
Which left them a larger harvest of corn and of grain.
The third, first American Thanksgiving of 1777
Was a victory celebration, that gave thanks to the Heavens
For the Battle of Saratoga they did finish
With the eventual defeat of the British.
The fourth, first American Thanksgiving of 1789
Declared Thursday November 26th as the official day to dine
But after this, for fourteen years after 1801
Thanksgiving celebrations, there were none.
The fifth, first American Thanksgiving of 1814
A renewal of the celebration arrived on the scene
Thanksgiving Eve raffles and turkey shooting in the morning
Church services and huddled families outside under awning.
In the more recognizable Thanksgiving of 2018
Tables are filled with turkey, potatoes and beans so green
American football and parades on TV are broadcast
It’s a time to give thanks and reflect on a great year that’s passed
Olivia Templeton, November 2018. Plymouth, United Kingdom.