The Night Before Christmas (Rackham)

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The Night Before Christmas (Rackham)  (1915) 
by Clement Clarke Moore
For other versions of this work, see A Visit from St. Nicholas.

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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,

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When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang trom 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

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The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of midday to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

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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!”

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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 pedlar just opening his pack.

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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.

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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;

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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,


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Dr. Clement C. Moore, the author of these verses, was born in the city of New York 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 work of great labor and the product of many years’ toil. Yet, strangely enough, Dr. Moore’s fame today rests almost solely on this poem, which he wrote one Christmas-time for his children. Published first under the title “A Visit from St Nicholas,” it has been translated into nearly all European languages, and has even been issued in Braille.

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This work was published before January 1, 1927, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.