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Sun Dec 24, 2017, 11:20 AM

FSogol's Advent Calendar Day 24: Twas The Night Before Christmas

Clement Clarke Moore (July 15, 1779 July 10, 1863) was a writer and American Professor of Oriental and Greek Literature, as well as Divinity and Biblical Learning, at the General Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in New York City.

A Visit from St. Nicholas was the original title and the poem is

"arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American", was first published anonymously in the Troy (NY) Sentinel on December 23, 1823. It was sent to the paper by a friend of Moore. It was reprinted frequently thereafter and published as a small book in illustrated versions.

It was not until 1837, in The New-York Book of Poetry (edited by Charles Fenno Hoffmann), that the poem was first attributed in print to Moore. Moore claimed authorship by including it in his Poems, an 1844 anthology of his works. His children, for whom he had originally written the piece, encouraged this publication. At first Moore had not wished to be connected with the popular verse, given his public reputation as a professor of ancient languages. By then, the original publisher and at least seven others had already acknowledged him as author.

Handwriting analysis experts argue over whether it was really written by Major Henry Livingston, Jr., a New Yorker with Dutch/ Scottish roots,who was related to Moore's wife. Livingston's family maintains he wrote it, but Livingston never made the claim.

Moore published it anonymously, because he felt it was foolish and could damage his professional scholarship and publications. The irony is that all of his other works are largely forgotten and he lives on because of a poem he wrote to entertain his kids.

Since the poem is now in the public domain and not subject to DU's copyright rules, here's the entire poem:

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro' 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 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 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 luster 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 call'd them by name:
"Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,
"On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixem;
"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 toys‍‌and 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 dress'd all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish'd with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look'd like a peddler just opening his pack:

His eyes‍‌how 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 laugh'd, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh'd 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 fill'd all the stockings; then turn'd with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung 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.

PS. If you are wondering why 2 of Santa's reindeer are named Dunder and Blixem, see


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Hope you find some peace, solitude, and friendship this season.

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