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Friday’s library snapshot …

December 20, 2013

I spotted this for its lovely jacket!!

The night before Christmas by Clement C. Moore and illustrated by Arthur Rackham.

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:

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 rose a clatter,

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

Away to the window I flew like  flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of midday 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 tiny hoof.

As I drew in my head, that 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 pedlar 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 like a bow,

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

The stump of his pipe he held in his teeth,

And the smoke in 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 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 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 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.


Dr Clement C. Moore, the author of these verses, was born in New York City in 1779. The son of Bishop Benjamin Moore, he became a well known classical scholar, and in 1821 was appointed Professor of Hebrew and Greek literature in the Protestant Episcopal Seminary in New York.  He died in 1863.  Among his contributions to Literature and learning is a monumental Hebrew and English Lexicon, a great work of great labour and product of many years toil Yet, strangle Dr Moore’s fame today rests almost solely on this poem, which he wrote one Christmas time for his children.

It was first published with the title A visit from St Nicholas, It has been translated in all European languages and issued in Braille.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2013 10:10 am

    Lovely festive choice Helen 🙂

  2. December 20, 2013 6:15 pm

    Reblogged this on Living, Libraries and [Dead] Languages and commented:

    I am beginning to feel a bit Christmasy : a little to do with the Sherry!!

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