“Let All Your Thinks Be Thanks”


Thanksgiving reminds Patrick Kurp of W.H. Auden:

Auden’s final book of poems, published posthumously in 1974, is Thank You, Fog. It contains a poem titled “A Thanksgiving,” and the volume’s best-known line is from “Lullaby”: “Let your last thinks all be thanks.” Dr. Oliver Sacks says of his friend: “Wystan’s mind and heart came closer and closer in the course of his life, until thinking and thanking became one and the same.”

Kurp points to Joseph Epstein’s article (WSJ) on the same theme from 2007:

I wish the poet W. H. Auden were still alive, so that he might be at the same table where I eat my Thanksgiving dinner. Auden, I think, nicely captured the spirit of Thanksgiving when he wrote that, in prayer, it is best to get the begging part over with quickly and get on to the gratitude part. He also wrote, ‘let all your thinks be thanks.’

To be living in a prosperous and boundlessly interesting country, at a time of high technological achievement, and of widening tolerance — much to be thankful for here. ‘Wystan,’ I’d like to tell the poet, ‘you got it right, kid. Now how about a drumstick?’

(Image of Auden from the January, 1957 cover of The Atlantic, by Stanley Meltzof, via Roger Doherty)