Two weeks after the Troy Sentinel printed a new poem about Christmas, the Essex Register reprinted it, and “Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas” was on its way to being one of the most popular poems in American history. At the time of the reprint no one knew that the poem had been written by Clement Clarke Moore, so the editor credited the paper from which he copied it. He also abbreviated the introduction and added a sprinkling of typographical differences—not the last the poem would absorb.


http://www.merrycoz.org/moore/1824Essex.xhtml
“Account Of a Visit from St. Nicholas” (Essex Register [Salem, Massachusetts], 5 January 1824; p. 4)
From the Troy Sentinel.

We know not to whom we are indebted for the following description of that unwearied patron of children—that homely, but delightful personification of parental kindness, SAINTE CLAUS, his costume and his equipage, as he goes about visiting the fire-sides of this happy land, laden with Christmas bounties; but, from whomsoever it may have come, we give thanks for it. There is, to our apprehension, a spirit of cordial goodness in it, a playfulness of fancy, and a benevolent alacrity to enter into the feelings and promote the simple pleasures of children, which are altogether charming.

ACCOUNT OF A VISIT FROM ST. NICHOLAS.

’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 sprung 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 rein-deer,

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! Dunder and Blixem;

“To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

“Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves 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 slung on his back,

And he look’d like a pedlar 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 in tight in his teeth, [sic]

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 bowl full 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 fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jirk, [sic]

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.

Copyright 1999-2017, Pat Pflieger
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