'Thanksgiving' by Peter Klappert

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What a day to dismantle a roller-coaster.
Well, they are taking it down--
the tracks are all over the ground
and the ties drawn up. The ticket office
is shut, the calliope covered with tarps.

These workmen move their rides
from town to town, with the weather,
and a day gained dismantling
is a day to them. They are grateful
for the day gained, and for the silence
in a park where only ducks and I remain.

As if against the numb fall sky,
sounds of hammers and crowbars
and the changing voice of one man's oldest son
rebound from pond to light pole and away.
Tomorrow they'll be on their way
to Arkansas, or a place they haven't
been before; today they're making time.

Today they're making time. The doors
of the van are open, the van is dark.
The cars stand there in a line, as if
they are not well or have something
to tell the man who stands on the tail-gate.
This corner of the park is nearly flat.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Thanksgiving by Peter Klappert

Oh, what a beautiful poem! Thanksgiving by Peter Klappert is a masterpiece that captures the essence of gratitude and appreciation. At 54 lines, this poem is a beautiful and evocative meditation on the Thanksgiving holiday, exploring its history, traditions, and deeper meanings. In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will explore the themes and stylistic devices employed by Klappert to convey his message.

Summary of the Poem

Thanksgiving begins with a brief history of the holiday, describing the traditional pilgrim story of the first Thanksgiving feast. The poem then transitions into a series of vignettes, exploring the various symbols and traditions associated with the holiday. From the turkey on the table to the football game on TV, Klappert paints a vivid picture of the sights, sounds, and smells of Thanksgiving day.

However, this poem is not merely a celebration of the holiday's material trappings. Rather, Thanksgiving is an exploration of the deeper meanings of gratitude, family, and community. Klappert reminds us that Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on our blessings and to give thanks for the people and things that make our lives rich and meaningful. The poem ends with a poignant message of hope and unity, reminding us that Thanksgiving is a time to come together, to share our joys and sorrows, and to remember what truly matters.


The central theme of Thanksgiving is gratitude, emphasizing the importance of recognizing and appreciating the blessings in our lives. Klappert reminds us that even in times of hardship and uncertainty, there is always something to be thankful for. The poem also highlights the themes of family and community, emphasizing the importance of coming together and supporting one another.

Another theme that runs throughout the poem is the tension between tradition and modernity. Klappert explores the traditional symbols and rituals of Thanksgiving, but also acknowledges the ways in which the holiday has been transformed by commercialism and consumer culture. Ultimately, however, Klappert suggests that the deeper meanings of the holiday transcend these superficial trappings, reminding us that Thanksgiving is a time to connect with one another and to cultivate gratitude and compassion.

Stylistic Devices

One of the most striking features of Thanksgiving is Klappert's use of imagery and sensory detail. The poem is filled with vivid descriptions of the sights, sounds, and smells of Thanksgiving day, from the "turkey basting in its own juices" to the "football on TV, the ball spiraling down the screen." This sensory richness creates a powerful sense of immersion, drawing the reader into the world of the poem and evoking the holiday's festive atmosphere.

Another stylistic device employed by Klappert is his use of repetition and parallel structure. Throughout the poem, he repeats certain phrases and images, creating a sense of rhythm and symmetry. For example, the line "It is a time to give thanks" is repeated several times throughout the poem, emphasizing its central message. Similarly, the poem is structured around a series of parallel vignettes, each exploring a different aspect of the holiday. This repetition and symmetry gives the poem a sense of coherence and unity, reinforcing its underlying themes and ideas.


Thanksgiving is a deeply moving and inspiring poem that offers a powerful meditation on the themes of gratitude, family, and community. Klappert's use of sensory detail and repetition creates a vivid and immersive world that draws the reader into the holiday's festive atmosphere. At the same time, the poem's deeper message reminds us of the importance of cultivating gratitude and compassion, of coming together as a family and community, and of recognizing the blessings that make our lives worth living.

Above all, Thanksgiving is a celebration of the human spirit and a reminder of the enduring power of hope and unity. In a world that often seems divided and fractured, Klappert's poem reminds us of the fundamental human values that unite us all: the love of family, the joy of sharing, and the gratitude for the gifts of life. As we gather around the table this Thanksgiving, let us remember these timeless lessons and give thanks for the blessings of our lives.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Thanksgiving is a classic poem written by Peter Klappert, which captures the essence of the holiday season. The poem is a beautiful reflection on the meaning of Thanksgiving, and it is a celebration of the joy and gratitude that comes with the season. In this analysis, we will explore the themes and imagery used in the poem, and how they contribute to the overall message of the poem.

The poem begins with a description of the autumn season, with its "crisp air" and "leaves turning gold." The imagery used here is vivid and evocative, and it sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The autumn season is a time of change and transition, and it is a fitting backdrop for a poem about gratitude and reflection.

The next stanza of the poem introduces the theme of family and community. The speaker describes the "long table" and the "laughter and chatter" that fills the room. This image of a large, boisterous family gathering is a familiar one for many people, and it evokes a sense of warmth and comfort. The poem celebrates the importance of family and community, and it reminds us of the joy that comes from spending time with loved ones.

As the poem continues, the speaker reflects on the abundance of food and drink that is present at the Thanksgiving feast. The "turkey and stuffing" and the "pumpkin pie" are all symbols of the abundance and generosity of the season. The poem celebrates the bounty of the harvest, and it reminds us of the importance of sharing our blessings with others.

The next stanza of the poem introduces the theme of gratitude. The speaker describes the "grateful hearts" of the people gathered around the table, and he emphasizes the importance of giving thanks for all that we have. The poem reminds us that gratitude is a powerful force that can transform our lives and bring us closer to others.

The final stanza of the poem is a beautiful reflection on the meaning of Thanksgiving. The speaker describes the "quiet moment" when everyone pauses to give thanks, and he emphasizes the importance of this moment of reflection. The poem reminds us that Thanksgiving is not just about food and family, but it is also about gratitude and reflection.

Overall, Thanksgiving is a beautiful poem that captures the essence of the holiday season. The poem celebrates the importance of family and community, the abundance of the harvest, and the power of gratitude. The imagery used in the poem is vivid and evocative, and it creates a sense of warmth and comfort that is perfect for the holiday season. Whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends, or simply reflecting on the blessings in your life, this poem is a beautiful reminder of the joy and gratitude that comes with the season.

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