Nov 28, 2013

Posted by in New poetry | 2 Comments

A Joyful Debt: A Thanksgiving Sonnet

Two years ago, as part of a friendly challenge among poets, I wrote this sonnet on (and for) the holiday of Thanksgiving. I share it again today, with renewed thanks for my friends and for the gift of language.

This year, 2013, I am particularly thankful on this Thanksgiving day for the life and witness of C.S. Lewis. On Friday Nov. 22, Lewis was honored with a Memorial in Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey, a Service which it was my very great privilege to attend. (I wrote about it here.) As I re-read my poem here, I am struck that “a joyful debt that I cannot repay” is precisely what I owe to the great man whom we honored last week.

You can also read Malcolm Guite’s excellent Thanksgiving poem (composed for the same challenge as mine) on his blog. His poem, like mine, references Charles Williams. Since then, he has revised and incorporated it into of a larger series of sonnets for the Church year, which was released last year as Sounding the Seasons from Canterbury Press. It is marvelous and you should buy it.

Here is my sonnet. You can hear my reading of it by clicking on the link in the title.

Thanksgiving Sonnet

I have no words of praise and thanks today
That would suffice to even make a start,
But only empty hands, a quiet heart,
A joyful debt that I cannot repay.
The dry and empty cup can truly say
The measure of its need; now not in part
But wholly filled with light and love, what art
Of song or verse can praise enough, this day?
O Morning Star! If any word is true,
It points to you, the end of all desire,
And draws its truth from you, the hidden place
That all will find who seek. This gift from you
I’ll praise with words you give: through dark and fire
I’ll sing and pray with coinherent grace.


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  1. Oh, Holly–love this!


  1. Thanksgiving; a Sonnet | Malcolm Guite - [...] with some American poets to compose Petrarchan sonnets on the theme of Thanksgiving. Check out this Excellent Sonnet from …

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