‘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 danc’d 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! Donder 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 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 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 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.
A quick note:
Back when newspapers were getting read by normal people, every year The Boston Herald printed this poem on its front page. The Herald was disbanded this year, a very sad day for Boston now reduced to just one newspaper, so I have undertaken to print the poem myself.
The pictures are originals of the book’s covers through the years. Sometimes called “The Night Before Christmas” and other times called “A Visit From St. Nicholas” and periodically both, the covers show this variation.
Most people know it by both titles anyway. I used to know it by heart.
‘Twas the week before Christmas, and up in the Hollows,
Solstice bonfires were burning, to toast the marshmallows.
The pixies were snug in their stump, even Jenks,
Who claimed he was tired, and needed some winks.
So I in my parka, and Ivy in her boots,
Were toasting the season, with thirty-year hooch.
When out in the street, there came such a crash,
I thought that it had to be ‘coons in our trash.
Away to the gate, I trudged through the snow,
While Ivy just said, “If it’s Kist, say hello.”
I lifted the latch, and peered to the street,
My face went quite cold. We were in it thigh deep.
‘Twas a demon, who stood in the headlamps quite bright,
With his coat of green velvet, and his uncommon height.
His eyes, how they glittered, his teeth how they gnashed,
His voice, how he bellowed, his tongue, how it lashed.
The street wasn’t holy, so on Big Al came,
As he bellowed, and shouted, and called me by name.
“Morgan, you witch. You’re a pain in my side.
“Get out of your church. There’s no place to hide!”
Like hell’s fury unleashed, he strode to my door,
Where he hammered and cursed, like a cheap jilted whore.
But Ivy and I, we circled round back,
To stand in the street and prepare for attack.
“You loser,” I shouted. “I’m waiting for you.”
And the demon, he spun, taking on a red hue.
Ivy stood ready, and I whispered, “Okay . . .
“If he wants to get rough, I’m ready to play.”
With nary a word, us two girls got to work,
Putting foot into gut, of the soul-sucking jerk.
I circled him quick, with a few words of Latin,
While Ivy distracted him with lots of good wackin’
“Get back!” I yelled out when my trap was complete,
And Ivy somersaulted right over the creep.
My circle sprang up, entrapping him surely,
Al fussed and he fumed, like a demonic fury.
The neighbors all cheered, and came out of their houses,
Where they’d watched the whole thing, like little house mouses.
So Ivy and I, we both bowed real low,
Then banished Big Al, in an overdone show.
But I heard Al exclaim, ‘ere he poofed from our sight
“You won this time witch, but I’ll get you one night!”
December 14th, 2005
Kim and Guy wish you and yours all the best of the holiday season and a glowing new year.
Pssssst! If you are looking for something exclusive for your Hollows fan, or something special for yourself, my next release, PERFECTION is available for pre-order. Unlike my usual publications, there will be only 1,500 of these hardcovers, and all of them are signed. They won’t be readily available through the usual stores, so this is the best way to get them, and pre-ordering makes me look good. (Wink)
But please pop over to Subterranean Press and pre-order one before you go and put this under your tree as, unlike my usual publications, there will be a limited number of these signed and numbered, and they will not be readily available in the stores come March.
I’ve even got a gift card for you to print out to put under the tree. Happy Holidays!
“The time has come,” the doglet said,
“to talk of many things;
Of tennis balls and squeaky ducks,
and sneaky bees with stings;
of why the sparrows fly so fast
and if that cat has wings.”
“Just wait a bit,” the writer said,
“I’m busy with these things.”
“But writer,“ said the small dog then,
“The sun will shortly set,
the pheasants will be playing out,
and rabbits too, I bet.
I really should be practising,
I haven’t caught one yet.”
“Hmm. Never mind, it’s raining
and you don’t like getting wet.”
“Ok then,” sighed the little dog,
“We could consider, please,
the therapeutic benefits
of sharing Cheddar cheese.
Or why that spider’s sitting there,
Or why do you have knees…”
“You scratch a lot,” the writer said,
“You sure it isn’t fleas?”
The clouds were turning dusky pink,
Upon the fading blue.
The writer sighed, put down the pen
another task was through.
“Come on, small dog, go get the leash,
your walk is overdue.”
The small dog answered sheepishly,
“Tough luck, I ate your shoe.”
With apologies to Lewis Carroll…. But none at all to her. She should come out more.
William Ernest Henley, born August 23, 1849, was an influential British poet, perhaps best known for his poem “Invictus” (1875). He is the author of A Song of Speed (D. Nutt, 1903), Hawthorn & Lavender with Other Verses (D. Nutt, 1901), and For England’s Sake: Verses and Songs in Time of War (D. Nutt, 1900), among others. He died in Woking, England, on July 11, 1903.
If ever a poem spoke of meeting a challenge, this one does. I don’t actually believe I am the master of my fate. I don’t think any of us are, but there are times when hanging on to the thought helps you through otherwise hard times.
“The Second Coming” is a poem written by Irish poet W. B. Yeats in 1919, first printed in The Dial in November 1920, and afterward included in his 1921 collection of verses Michael Robartes and the Dancer.
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