Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Visit from St. Nicholas - Henry Livingston

A Visit from St. Nicholas

'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,
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) *

Footnote …

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.

 *see this Web link - http://german.about.com/library/blkaestner_nikolaus.htm.

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