Over the River and Through the Wood

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

"The New-England Boy's Song about Thanksgiving Day",[1][2] also known as "Over the River and Through the Wood", is a Thanksgiving poem by Lydia Maria Child,[3] originally published in 1844 in Flowers for Children, Volume 2.[4]

Although many people sing "to grandmother's house we go", the author's original words were "to grandfather's house we go".[4] Many people also mistakenly refer to the "Wood" in the song as plural "Woods" rather than singular.

Background[edit]

The poem was originally published as "The New-England Boy's Song about Thanksgiving Day" in Child's Flowers for Children.[5] It celebrates the author's childhood memories of visiting her grandfather's house (said to be the Paul Curtis House). Lydia Maria Child was a novelist, journalist, teacher, and poet who wrote extensively about the need to eliminate slavery.[6]

The poem was eventually set to a tune by an unknown composer. The song version is sometimes presented with lines about Christmas, rather than Thanksgiving. For instance, the line "Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!" becomes "Hurrah for Christmas Day!". As a Christmas song, it has been recorded as "A Merry Christmas at Grandmother's". Although the modern Thanksgiving holiday is not always associated with snow (snow in late November occasionally occurs in the northern states and is rare at best elsewhere in the United States), New England in the early 19th century was enduring the Little Ice Age, a colder era with earlier winters.[7]

Poem[edit]

The original piece had twelve stanzas, though only four are typically included in the song.

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather's house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather's house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for 'tis Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood—
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
as over the ground we go.
Over the river, and through the wood—
and straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
it is so hard to wait!
Over the river, and through the wood—
When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, "O, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for everyone."
Over the river, and through the wood—
now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

The following verses appear in a "long version":

Over the river, and through the wood,
with a clear blue winter sky,
The dogs do bark, and children hark,
as we go jingling by.
Over the river, and through the wood,
to have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, "Ting-a-ling-ding!",
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!
Over the river, and through the wood,
no matter for winds that blow;
Or if we get the sleigh upset
into a bank of snow
Over the river, and through the wood,
to see little John and Ann;
We will kiss them all, and play snow-ball
and stay as long as we can.
Over the river, and through the wood,
trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound!
For 'tis Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood,
Old Jowler hears our bells.
He shakes his pow, with a loud bow-wow,[1]
and thus the news he tells.

Legacy[edit]

A children's book, Over the River—A Turkey's Tale, recasts the poem as a humorous tale of a family of turkeys on their way to a vegetarian Thanksgiving; the book was written by Derek Anderson, and published by Simon & Schuster in 2005.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The New-England Boy's Song about Thanksgiving Day". Poetry Foundation.
  2. ^ Doyne, Shannon (November 21, 2013). "'The New-England Boy's Song about Thanksgiving Day'". Poetry Pairing. The New York Times.
  3. ^ "Lydia Maria Child". Wayland Historical Society. Archived from the original on September 30, 2015. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Lydia Maria Child and the Development of Children's Literature". Boston College: bostonliteraryhistory,com. 2012. Archived from the original on November 26, 2013. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  5. ^ Karcher, Carolyn L. (1994). The First Woman in the Republic: A Cultural Biography of Lydia Maria Child. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. p. 620. ISBN 0822321637.
  6. ^ Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Lydia Maria Child: Reformer, Speaker and Writer". Women's History. about.com. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  7. ^ "Timeline Middle Ages and Early Modern Period - Environmental History Resources: The Little Ice Age (ca. 1300–1870)". Environmental History Resources. Archived from the original on February 8, 2015.
  8. ^ Anderson, Derek (2005). Over the River—A Turkey's Tale. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-689-87635-6.

External links[edit]