Thanksgiving approaches, and that is as fine an occasion as any to reprint a poem about a beloved autumnal dessert, pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie is used to describe a flavoring for everything from coffee to beer these days, but in simpler times, “pumpkin pie” usually referred to actual pumpkin pies. We will return to those simpler times to review Mary Mapes’ Dodge’s poem, aptly called Pumpkin Pie.
Preface to the Poem
I found Pumpkin Pie reprinted in The Topaz Story Book on Project Gutenberg. The Topaz Story Book, which contained many children’s stories and poems about autumn, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, was first printed and released in 1917. Project Gutenberg hosts the fifth edition, which was released in 1928.
As we will find later in this article, the author of Pumpkin Pie, Mary Mapes Dodge, lived from 1831 to 1905. Thus, while I do not know precisely when she wrote Pumpkin Pie, it was well before the poem was published in The Topaz Story Book.
“Pumpkin Pie” by Mary Mapes Dodge (reprinted)
Through sun and shower the pumpkin grew, When the days were long and the skies were blue. And it felt quite vain when its giant size Was such that it carried away the prize At the County Fair, when the people came, And it wore a ticket and bore a name. Alas for the pumpkin’s pride! One day A boy and his mother took it away. It was pared and sliced and pounded and stewed, And the way it was treated was hard and rude. It was sprinkled with sugar and seasoned with spice, The boy and his mother pronounced it nice. It was served in a paste, it was baked and browned, And at last on a pantry shelf was found. And on Thursday John, Mary, and Mabel Will see it on aunty’s laden table. For the pumpkin grew ’neath a summer sky Just to turn at Thanksgiving into pie!
About Mary Mapes Dodge
I have reprinted numerous poems on The New Leaf Journal by authors about whom little information is extant, at least through simple internet searches. Mary Mapes Dodge is a happy exception to the the trend, having achieved enough notoriety in her life and in posterity to have a Wikipedia page dedicated to her life.
Dodge was a renowned author of children’s literature and poetry in the nineteenth century. She was also the first editor of St. Nicholas Magazine, a late nineteenth and early twentieth century children’s magazine that featured contributions from literary luminaries including, but not certainly not limited to, Louisa May Alcott, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Lord Tennyson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Mark Twain.
The following passage is from the October 1905 edition of St. Nicholas Magazine in memory of Dodge, authored by William Fayal Clarke:
The recognized leader in juvenile literature for almost a third of a century, she was universally honored by the children of America and even the world – for from shore to shore of our country and across the wildest seas her name was held in reverent affection by child-readers and their parents. Two generations of girls and boys have known her work and learned to love the noble, gifted, kindly nature which her work revealed.
I conclude with a passage from the article about Dodge’s cottage in the Catskills, which she purchased in 1888, for we can learn much from one’s aesthetic preferences regarding the home:
It was a rambling, rustic home, unpretentious enough – for simplicity was always one of Mrs. Dodge’s chosen virtues, and simplicity reigned without and within. But she loved the cozy rooms with their quaint corners, the fire upon the hearth, and the view from the veranda, of the green, wooded slopes and the towering blue hills and beyond.