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Clement Moore ‘A visit from St. Nicholas’

December 23, 2018

Editor’s note: To continue a Christmas Eve tradition, we are reprinting Clement Moore’s 19th-century poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”

’Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In the hope that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.

And mama in her kerchief and I in my cap,

Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below.

When what to my wondering eyes did appear,

But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled and shouted and called them by name.

“Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!

“On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen!

“To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!

“Now dash away, dash away, dash away, all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With a sleigh full of toys and St. Nicholas, too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof,

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

A bundle of toys he flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his sack.

His eyes, how they twinkled! His dimples, so merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry.

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.

He had a broad face and a round little belly,

That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk;

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew, like down off a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

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