'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!"
by Henry Livingston, Jr. (1823) *
A Christmas poem both in German and English …
When it was translated from the English to German in 1947 by Erich Kastner the lines in italics were not included. The reindeer names Donner and Blitzen are those used by Kastner.
I met an aged, aged man
Upon the lonely moor:
I knew I was a gentleman,
And he was but a boor.
So I stopped and roughly questioned him,
“Come, tell me how you live!”
But his words impressed my ear no more
Than if it were a sieve.
He said, “I look for soap-bubbles,
That lie among the wheat,
And bake them into mutton-pies,
And sell them in the street.
I sell them unto men”, he said,
“Who sail on stormy seas;
And that’s the way I get my bread--
A trifle, if you please.”
But I was thinking of a way
To multiply by ten,
And always, in the answer, get
The question back again.
I did not hear a word he said,
But kicked that old man calm,
And said, “Come, tell me how you live!”
And pinched him in the arm.
His accents mild took up the tale:
He said, “I go my ways,
And when I find a mountain-rill,
I set it in a blaze.
And thence they make a stuff they call
Rowland’s Macassar Oil;
But fourpence-halfpenny is all
They give me for my toil.”
But I was thinking of a plan
To paint one’s gaiters green,
So much the colour of the grass
That they could ne’er be seen.
I gave his ear a sudden box,
And questioned him again,
And tweaked his grey and reverend locks,
And put him into pain.
He said, “I hunt for haddocks’ eyes
Among the heather bright,
And work them into waistcoat-buttons
In the silent night.
And these I do not sell for gold,
Or coin of silver-mine,
But for a copper-halfpenny,
And that will purchase nine.
“I sometimes dig for buttered rolls,
Or set limed twigs for crabs;
I sometimes search the flowery knolls
For wheels of hansom cabs.
And that’s the way” (he gave a wink)
“I get my living here,
And very gladly will I drink
Your Honour’s health in beer.”
I heard him then, for I had just
Completed my design
To keep the Menai bridge from rust
By boiling it in wine.
I duly thanked him, ere I went,
For all his stories queer,
But chiefly for his kind intent
To drink my health in beer.
And now if e’er by chance I put
My fingers into glue,
Or madly squeeze a right-hand foot
Into a left-hand shoe;
Or if a statement I aver
Of which I am not sure,
I think of that strange wanderer
Upon the lonely moor.
Lewis Carroll 1856
Upon the lonely moor … comments …
Lewis Carroll was motivated to write this
poem after reading Wordsworth’s poem ‘Resolution and Independence’
S1 …definite arrogance and class
distinction … judgement on sight … not interested in the aged man … and
superficially a question is asked while not interested in any reply … will this
colour future interaction
S2 … A nonsense reply … but it doesn’t
matter … alternatively these may be the words that the non-listening gentleman
hears (a translation) – because he doesn’t really care … the words from the
aged man have a certain humility about them
S3 … The gentleman has a mathematical bent
with interest in riddles (befitting of
Charles Hodgson … compare to Wordsworth’s poem when Wordsworth is thinking about poetry when talking to the leech gatherer) …
forces calm (a metaphorical kick?) then asks the same question … and
interestingly pinches the poor fellow … showing arrogance and disrespect
S4 and S5 … again a lot of nonsense and
non-comprehension …and again the Gentleman distracted by idle thoughts
(Rowland’s Macassar Oil – a well-known Victorian beautifier for the hair - for
the Upper Class) … the Gentleman again questions ... boxing ears and tweaking
the aged man’s hair as though the poor fellow is a school boy and he a teacher
S6 and S7 … nonsense continued in the same
vein with certain cynical references (waistcoat and hansom cabs) … the last two
lines give recognition to the Gentleman (your Honour) in terms of offering a
S8 … the Gentleman’s thoughts are now complete (note - his thoughts are just as nonsensical) he can focus on the aged man
and what he has heard … the only thing of any sense being the thank you toast …
the question is - if he had listened or been more aware would he have heard
different words … would he have been given different words?
S9 … whenever the Gentleman does something by
mistake that is not fitting he thinks of the aged man who is living a non-fitting
life at least to his frame of reference … and of course if he had been listening (or
aware of what he was doing) would he have put his foot into the wrong shoe in
the first place?
From the dictionary …
Gentleman … 1. a man
of good breeding, education, and manners. 2. (as a
polite form of speech) any man. 3. a male personal
servant, or valet, especially of a man of social position: a gentleman's
gentleman. 4. a man of good social standing by birth, especially one who does not
work for a living.5. History a man above the rank of
Boor … 1. a rude
or unmannerly person, 2. a peasant; a
rustic.3. an illiterate or clownish peasant.4. a Dutch
or German peasant.5. any foreign peasant.
Note ... See also Chapter 8 of Through the Looking
Glass … Alice talking to the White Knight with the text on which this was based
This image is of my knee 5 days after arthroscopic surgery.
please, I’m talking to thee
have a slight problem with a crook knee.
meniscus may need sort of mending
I’m getting pain when I’m bending.
came with a fibre-optic tube
from my knee his rod did protrude
the snake-eye inside peered at the view
images back to the surgical crew.
video monitor blew-up the sad sight
portraying what wasn’t quite right
on the other side with a snip and a snap
surgical instrument removed all the crap.
if your meniscus is kind of sus
is possible with minimum fuss!
Scutter 12 November 2011
Knee note ... This sonnet was written as a way of a thank you and to show it is a simple procedure that is not at all intrusive. It has been estimated that over four million
arthroscopies were performed last year.
This was a small book produced in December 2010 containing a selection of some of my more personal poetry plus accompanied images dating from the time I first started writing poems in 2002. It was a home-produced handbound hardback book; a very limited edition produced primarily for family and friends. A high-quality production published by one by the name of Maureen Scutter.
This book is now available in eBook pdf format as a mirror copy with minor corrections ... primarily to disseminate further afield for family and friends, but should any other party be desirous (not delirious) for a copy please send an Email request.