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Twas The Night Before Christmas
(Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas)

by Major Henry Livingston Jr.

'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 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 my 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 midday
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 Saint 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, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch!
to the top of the wall!
Now, dash way! 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 a 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 he had
flung on his back,
And he looked 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 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 bowlful 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 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 the down off a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim,
'ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all!
and to all a good night!
"


-- End

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