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A Visit from St. Nicholas
by Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863)
He wrote the poem in 1822 for his six children. The version here was adapted from a copy in The Oxford Book of Children's Verse, eds. Iona and Peter Opie (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1973), pages 154-155.
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
not a creature was stirrring, 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 sugarplums danced in their heads.
And mama in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled 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.

...

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.

Faster than eagles his reindeer they came.
He whistled, and shouted, and called 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!"


...

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 vendor just opening his pack.

His eyes, how they twinkled; his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
and the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

A pipe he held tight in his teeth,
and the smoke encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly
that shook, when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a jolly old elf.
I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
soon let me know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word but went straight to work.
He filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk,
and laying his finger across his lips and nose,
and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He ran to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
and away they all flew like the seed of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, before he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Vocabulary
'twas \twaz\: it was (old-fashioned pronunciation)
hang \hang\: fasten to a wall; past tense "hung"
chimney \'CHIM-ni\: smokestack
St. Nicholas, St. Nick \seint 'NI-ka-las\: Santa Claus
nestle \'NE-suhl\: rest comfortably
sugarplums \'SHU-ger plamz\: candy
kerchief \'KER-chef\: scarf
clatter \'KLA-ter\: noise
miniature \'MI-ni-a-cher\: small
chubby \'CHA-bi\: fat, plump
exclaim \eks-'KLEIM\: shout

*pronunciation for 5-vowel languages
Phrases
What's the matter? --> What's wrong? Is there a problem?
in a flash --> in a second; quickly
it must be --> it has to be; almost 100% certain
he looked like --> he resembled
in spite of --> despite
let me know --> tell me or told me
nothing to dread \dred\ --> nothing to fear