Clement Clarke Moore’s major contribution to American culture is “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” which began to make the rounds of American periodicals in 1823. However, “Visit” was not the only poem Moore wrote. Thus, when in 1837 Charles Fenno Hoffman showcased New York poets in The New-York Book of Poetry, he could include not just the wildly popular “Visit,” but three more serious poems by Moore. Until this book, “Visit” was printed anonymously; while an editor had hinted at the poet’s identity, Hoffman’s collection was the first to name him.

The New-York Book of Poetry is available on microfilm at many large libraries, on reel 395 of the American Culture Series; the transcription here—from the microfilm—is of Moore’s contributions only: paeans to mother, wife, and children. And, yes, that other poem. All are complete with their surprising number of typographical errors.
Clement Clarke Moore in The New-York Book of Poetry (NY: George Dearborn, 1837)

p. 211


Thy dimpled girls and rosy boys

Rekindle in thy heart the joys

That bless’d thy tender years:

Unheeded fleet the hours away;

For, while thy cherubs round thee play,

New life thy bosom cheers.

One more, thou tell’st me, I may taste,

Ere envious time this frame shall waste,

My infant pleasures flown.

Ah! there ’s a ray of lustre mild,

Illumes the bosom of a child,

To age, alas! scarce known.

Not for my infant pleasures past

I mourn; those joys which flew so fast,

They, too, had many a stain;

But for the mind, so pure and light,

Which made those joys so fair, so bright,

I sigh, and sigh in vain.

Well I remember you, bless’d hours!

Your sunbeams bright, your transient showers!

Thoughtless I saw your fly;

For distant ills then caus’d no dread;

Nor cared I for the moments fled,

For memory call’d no sigh.

p. 212

Fond parents swayed my every thought;

No blame I feared, no praise I sought,

But what their love bestowed.

Full soon I learn’d each meaning look,

Nor e’er the angry glance mistook

For that where rapture glowed.

Whene’er night’s shadows called to rest,

I sought my father, to request

His benediction mild.

A mother’s love more loud would speak;

With kiss on kiss she’d print my cheek,

And bless her darling child.

Thy lightest mists and clouds, sweet sleep!

Thy purest opiates thou dost keep,

On infancy to shed.

No guilt there checks thy soft embrace,

And not e’en tears and sobs can chase

Thee from an infant’s bed.

The trickling tears which flow’d at night,

Oft hast thou stay’d, till morning light

Dispell’d my little woes.

So fly before the sunbeam’s power

The remnants of the evening shower

Which wet the early rose.

Farewell, bless’d hours! full fast ye flew;

And that which made your bliss so true

Ye would not leave behind.

The glow of youth ye could not leave;

But why, why cruelly bereave

Me of my artless mind?

p. 213

Fond mother! hope thy bosom warms,

That on the prattler in thy arms

Heaven’s choicest gifts may flow.

Thus let thy prayer incessant rise

To Him, who, thron’d above the skies,

Can feel for man below.

“Oh! Thou, whose view is ne’er estrang’d

“From innocence, preserve unchang’d

“Through life my darling’s mind;

“Unchang’d in truth and purity,

“Still fearless of futurity,

“Still artless, though refin’d.

“As oft his anxious nurse hath caught

“And sav’d his little hand that sought

“The bright, but treacherous blaze;

“So, let fair Wisdom keep him sure

“From glittering vices which allure,

“Through life’s delusive maze.

“Oh! may the ills which man enshroud,

“As shadows of a transient cloud,

“But shade, not stain my boy.

“Then may he gently drop to rest,

“Calm as a child by sleep oppres’d,

“And wake to endless joy.”

p. 215



This semblance of your parent’s time-worn face

Is but a sad bequest, my children dear:

Its youth and freshness gone, and in their place

The lines of care, the tracks of many a tear!

Amid life’s wreck, we struggle to secure

Some floating fragment from oblivion’s wave:

We pant for somewhat that may still endure,

And snatch at least a shadow from the grave.

Poor, weak, and transient mortals! why so vain

Of manly vigour or of beauty’s bloom?

An empty shade for ages may remain

When we have mouldered in the silent tomb.

But no! it is not we who moulder there;

We, of essential light that ever burns,

We take our way through untried fields of air,

When to the earth this earth-born frame returns.

And ’tis the glory of the master’s art

Some radiance of this inward light to find;

Some touch that to his canvass may impart

A breath, a sparkle of the immortal mind.

p. 216

Alas! the pencil’s noblest power can show

But some faint shadow of a transient thought,

Some waken’d feeling’s momentary glow,

Some swift impression in its passage caught.

Oh! that the artist’s pencil could pourtray [sic]

A father’s inward bosom to your eyes;

What hopes, and fears, and doubts perplex his way,

What aspirations for your welfare rise.

Then might this unsubstantial image prove,

When I am gone, a guardian of your youth,

A friend for ever urging you to move

In paths of honour, holiness, and truth.

Let fond imagination’s power supply

The void that baffles all the painter’s art;

And when those mimic features meet your eye,

Then fancy that they speak a parent’s heart.

Think that you still can trace within those eyes

The kindling of affection’s fervid beam,

The searching glance that every fault espies,

The fond anticipation’s pleasing dream.

Fancy those lips still utter sounds of praise,

Or kind reproof that checks each wayward will,

The warning voice, or precepts that may raise

Your thoughts above this treach’rous world of ill.

And thus shall Art attain her loftiest power;

To noblest purpose shall her efforts tend:

Not the companion of an idle hour,

But Virtue’s handmaid and Religion’s friend.

p. 217



’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;

p. 218

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced through 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 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! Donder and Blixen—

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

Now, dash away, dash away, dash away all!"

As 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 tarnish’d with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung 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;

p. 219

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard on 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 laugh’d, 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 the stockings; then turned with a jirk, [sic]

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!”

p. 221



The dreams of Hope that round us play,

And lead along our early youth,

How soon, alas! they fade away

Before the sober rays of Truth.

p. 222

And yet there are some joys in life

That Fancy’s pencil never drew;

For Fancy’s self, my own dear wife,

Ne’er dreamt the bliss I owe to you.

You have awaken’d in my breast

Some chords I ne’er before had known;

And you’ve imparted to the rest

A stronger pulse, a deeper tone.

And e’en the troubles that we find

Our peace oft threat’ning to o’erwhelm,

Like foreign foes, but serve to bind

More close in love our little realm.

I’ve not forgot the magic hour

When youthful passion first I knew;

When early love was in its flower,

And bright with ev’ry rainbow hue.

Then, fairy visions lightly moved,

And waken’d rapture as they pass’d;

But faith and love, like yours approved,

Give joys that shall for ever last.

A spotless wife’s enduring love,

A darling infant’s balmy kiss,

Breathe of the happiness above;

Too perfect for a world like this.

These heaven-sent pleasures seem too pure

To take a taint from mortal breath;

For, still unfading, they endure

’Mid sorrow, sickness, pain, and death.

p. 223

When cruel Palsy’s withering blow

Had left my father weak, forlorn,

He yet could weep for joy, to know

I had a wish’d-for infant born.

And, as he lay in death’s embrace,

You saw when last on earth he smil’d;

You saw the ray that lit his face

When he beheld our darling child.—

Strange, mingled scene of bliss and pain!

That, like a dream, before us flies;

I fondly think that I behold

A vision of our future state.

Hope comes, with balmy influence fraught,

To heal the wound that rends my heart,

Whene’er it meets the dreadful thought

That all our earthly ties must part.

Bless’d hope, beyond earth’s narrow space,

Within high Heaven’s eternal bound,

Again to see your angel face,

With all your cherubs clustering round.

Oh! yes, there are some beams of light

That break upon this world below,

So pure, so steady, and so bright,

They seem from better worlds to flow.

p. 224

Reflected images are seen

Upon this transient stream of Time,

Through mists and shades that intervene,

Of things eternal and sublime.

Then let us rightly learnt o know

These heavenly messengers of love:

They teach us whence true pleasures flow,

And win our thoughts to joys above.

And e’en when clouds roll o’er our head,

Still let us turn our longing eyes

To where Eternal Love has spread

The changeless azure of the skies.

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