T'was the Night Before Christmas by Jessie Wilcox Smith

“‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS” by Clement Clarke Moore

Clement Clarke Moore (July 15, 1779 – July 10, 1863) was an American Professor of Oriental and Greek Literature, as well as Divinity and Biblical Learning, at the General Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in New York City. Located on land donated by the “Bard of Chelsea” himself, the seminary still stands today on Ninth Avenue between 20th and 21st Streets, in an area known as Chelsea Square. Moore’s connection with that institution continued for over twenty-five years. He is the author of the yuletide poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, which later became famous as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”. 

Thank you Clement Clarke Moore for the most beautiful Christmas poem ever written!

Cover of a 1912 edition of the poem, illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith
Cover of a 1912 edition of the poem, illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith
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 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 luster 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 call’d them by name:
“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder 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 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 flung on his back,
And he look’d 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 laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh’d 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 jerk,
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.
—Clement Clarke Moore

10 thoughts on ““‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS” by Clement Clarke Moore”

  1. Then you can take the poem… put blanks beside many of the words for body parts, buildings, animals… etc. But you don’t distribute that yet. First have everyone fill out forms — name a body part, a part of a house, an animal, etc. Then those fill in the blanks in the poem… And then the new poem is read and your unsuspecting guests learn what they were doing. 😈 T’was the night before *Arbor Day* and all through the *Post Office* not a creature was stirring, not even a *skunk* You get the idea. Hugs :mrgreen:

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    1. Wow…that’s great Teagan! You have such a quick mind!! Remember those old books we used to read as kids where there were pictures replacing some of the words? That was great too…actually we could make it revolve around authors and writers and readers and make it a community Twas the night before Christmas!! Great idea!!! Thanks Teagan…have a wonderful Holiday season!

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    1. You’re welcome! It is interesting when you start reading the history of some of these things. It is amazing just how much you don’t know when you start to explore different things to write about! Thanks for visiting Bette and have a wonderful weekend!

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