The Rural Repository rarely printed works for children, but, like editors of other 19th-century American magazines, the editor of the Repository knew a good poem when he saw it. “A Visit from St. Nicholas” had passed from periodical to periodical since first being printed in 1823. Though an editor hinted at the identity of the author in 1829, the poem was still anonymous when the Repository printed it; Clement Clarke Moore would be revealed as the author when “Visit” was printed in The New-York Book of Poetry in 1837.


http://www.merrycoz.org/moore/REPOSTRY.xhtml
“Christmas Times” (from The Rural Repository, January 9, 1836; p. 128)

’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 the hope 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 rose 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 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 called them by name

‘Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer! now, Vixen!

On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Dunder and Blixen!

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 dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

A bundle of toys was 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,

The 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 filled all his 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 a down of a thistle;

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

‘Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.’

*Santa Claus.

Copyright 1999-2017, Pat Pflieger
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