Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas from New York

Thoughout the centuries, he has been known as SinterKlaas in Belgium and the Netherlands, Father Christmas in England, Pere Noel in France, and Kris Kingle in Germany. But it was this classic poem, first published 183 years ago today in the Troy (New York) Sentinal, that gave first breath to the iconic American version. A plaque at 22nd Street and 10th Avenue in Manhattan designates the exact spot where sugar-plummed visions of St. Nicholas first danced in our child-like heads.

A Visit from Saint Nicholas
by Clement Clark Moore

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma 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 the 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 lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should 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 the 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 had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of 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 little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful 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 the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

May sugar plums and child-like wonder keep you always young at heart!


AndrewPrice said...

This was always one of my favorite Christmas poems.

Unknown said...

Bev: In San Francisco, we have the plaque where the jolly old elf was brought down for operating an unsafe vehicle and spreading methane emissions with those eight tiny reindeer (Rudolph escaped). LOL

StanH said...

I love that poem as well, and used to read it to my kids, …excuse me I’m going to get weepy now!

BevfromNYC said...

Sorry, I've been flying today and wasn't able to respond until now.

I love this poem too. Like my favorite Christmas movies, this is a tradition for me.

LawHawk - I can understand why SF would bring him down. Where are the seatbelts in that sleigh, anyway?

Writer X said...

Too bad Burris didn't read that classic on the Senate floor!

Merry Christmas, all!

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, You've been flying? In a sleigh. . .?

CrispyRice said...

Very nice! Merry Christmas, Bev!

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