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Saturday, 24 December 2016

'Twas The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

The world is an utterly amazing place, and the ways we tellurians choose to describe it are extraordinary and, not seldom, quite hilariously bonkers.

So really the only difficulty with The Word Den is sometimes deciding which piece of imperishable genius to feature as a Saturday Rave. Today, however, the choice is so obvious that it's hardly a choice at all.

It's the night before Christmas, you see.

'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 in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief and I in my cap,
Had just settled down 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 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 courses they came,
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name.

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 a 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 tiny hoof.
As I drew in my hand, 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 peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes - how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheek were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
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 laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was jolly 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 of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,


Imperishable genius? Great poetry? Well, I love the idea of St Nicholas covered in soot, and The prancing and pawing of each tiny hoof, is a terrific image, so yes, I think it may be great poetry in its way, even if it's sometimes a rather sentimental, shoving-things-down-just-because-they-rhyme and a not-bothering-too-much-about-being-consistent-or-original sort of greatness.

But, hey, it's that sort of a time of year, isn't it?

Word To Use Today: stocking. This word comes from a dialect word, stock. Presumably one of those was a bit longer than a stocking.

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