The Best-Guest List | Knowledge & Wisdom

A classic Thanksgiving poem offers a primer on notable New Englanders.

By Yankee Magazine

Oct 06 2020

Longtime readers of Yankee and The Old Farmer’s Almanac will recognize the name of Tim Clark, the writer and editor behind many funny, moving, and memorable pieces in those publications. In honor of Tim’s retirement after 40-plus years of wordsmithing, we’re sharing an excerpt from his classic poem in the November 1983 issue of Yankee: “We Gather Together,” an epic name-check of famous New Englanders that he imagines inviting to Thanksgiving dinner.

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing on turkey and gravy and cranberry dressing, and welcome our guests, both the dead and the living, to join this imagined New England Thanksgiving.

There’s plenty to do now, so everyone pitch in— Would Julia Child please help out in the kitchen? Let all do the jobs for which they are most able— we’ll ask Martha Stewart to help set the table.

Good day, Johnny Appleseed, doff your tin topper, And sit yourself down next to young Edward Hopper. Ahoy there, Josh Slocum! Shalom, Ben and Jerry! We hope you brought lots of our favorite, Cherry Garcia! Has Longfellow brought Hiawatha? Let’s find a fauteuil for Whistler’s Mothah!

Let’s seat Robert Frost in a place of high honor, with Eugene O’Neill and with Edwin O’Connor, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, none could be sager, or more Transcendental a thinker, we’ll wager.

We’ve dallied so long that the guests are all starving; Ahem, Lizzie Borden, would you do the carving? (It’s rare that one sees the job done with a hatchet.) Now pass us a drumstick, Doug Flutie! We’ll catch it! The stuffing? We asked big Bill Russell to do it— give plenty of helpings to Sarah Orne Jewett.

Whoops! Emily Dickinson’s into the cider, We shouldn’t have let Paul Revere sit beside her. Is that Henry David Thoreau quoting Walden to lovely Priscilla, the wife of John Alden?

The hour is late; there’s a long road before us, so lift up your voices in one final chorus of hymns thanking God for the land and its bounty, led by Nelson Eddy, who’s dressed like a Mountie.

Farewell and good luck to guests real and fictitious; Babe Ruth’s batting cleanup. Let him do the dishes.

To read this poem in its entirety, go to