Over the River and Through the Wood

A favorite Thanksgiving poem since 1844.

Over the River and through the Wood“, a favorite holiday poem, was written by Lydia Maria Child. Originally titled, “A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day,” it was first published in Flowers for Children, Vol. 2 in 1844.


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—
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,
To have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

 Over the river and through the wood,
Trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground,
Like a hunting-hound!
For this is Thanksgiving Day.

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 —
Now grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for pumpkin-pie!


Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880) was a well-known American author and journalist. She wrote and compiled several works for children and in 1827 she established the first monthly for children in the United States, Juvenile Miscellany. She was one of the earliest American women to earn a living from her writing. As author of the book, Hobomok, Child was one of the first American authors to pen a novel portraying pioneer life. This novel was also noteworthy for its sympathetic portrayal of a Native American Indian.

Over the next few years she published The American Frugal Housewife, Mother’s Book and The Girl’s Own Book. In 1833, when the anti-slavery movement was beginning to be important, Mrs. Child wrote and published her Appeal for that Class of Americans called Africans—a work which attracted great attention. In 1841, Child was co-editor of The AntiSlavery Standard, published in New York. She also wrote from New York to The Boston Courier a series of letters, describing every-day life in the city, and commenting upon current events. These were afterward collected and published in two volumes and went through seven or eight editions.

[Image: “Home to Thanksgiving”, published 1867 by Currier and Ives]