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Christmas Poems

A Visit From St. Nicholas.
    by Clement Clarke Moore

'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 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 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 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 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 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 laughed, 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 on a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."


A Christmas Long Ago

Like a dream, it all comes o'er me as I hear the Christmas bells;
Like a dream it floats before me, while the Christmas anthem swells;
Like a dream it bears me onward in the silent, mystic flow,
To a dear old sunny Christmas in the happy long ago.

And my thoughts go backward, backward, and the years that intervene
Are but as the mists and shadows when the sunlight comes between;
And all earthly wealth and splendor seem but as a fleeting show,
As there comes to me the picture of a Christmas long ago.

I can see the great, wide hearthstone and the holly hung about;
I can see the smiling faces, I can hear the children shout;
I can feel the joy and gladness that the old room seem to fill,
E'en the shadows on the ceiling -- I can see them dancing still.

I can see the little stockings hung about the chimney yet;
I can feel my young heart thrilling lest the old man should forget.
Ah! that fancy! Were the world mine, I would give it, if I might,
To believe in old St. Nicholas, and be a child to-night.

Just to hang my little stocking where it used to hang, and feel
For one moment all the old thoughts and the old hopes o'er me steal.
But, oh! loved and loving faces, in the firelight's dancing glow,
There will never come another like that Christmas long ago!

For the old home is deserted, and the ashes long have lain
In the great, old-fashioned fireplace that will never shine again.
Friendly hands that then clasped ours now are folded 'neath the snow;
Gone the dear ones who were with us on that Christmas long ago.

Let the children have their Christmas -- let them have it while they may;
Life is short and childhood's fleeting, and there'll surely come a day
When St. Nicholas will sadly pass on by the close-shut door,
Missing all the merry faces that had greeted him of yore;

When no childish step shall echo through the quiet, silent room;
When no childish smile shall brighten, and no laughter lift the gloom;
When the shadows that fall 'round us in the fire-light's fitful glow
Shall be ghosts of those who sat there in the Christmas long ago.


The Two Little Stockings
    by Sara Keables Hunt

Two little stockings hung side by side,
Close to the fireside broad and wide.
"Two?" said Saint Nick, as down he came,
Loaded with toys and many a game.
"Ho, ho!" said he, with a laugh of fun,
"I'll have no cheating, my pretty one.

"I know who dwells in this house, my dear,
There's only one little girl lives here."
So he crept up close to the chimney place,
And measured a sock with a sober face;
Just then a wee little note fell out
And fluttered low, like a bird, about.

"Aha! What's this?" said he, in surprise,
As he pushed his specs up close to his eyes,
And read the address in a child's rough plan.
"Dear Saint Nicholas," so it began,
"The other stocking you see on the wall
I have hung up for a child named Clara Hall.

"She's a poor little girl, but very good,
So I thought, perhaps, you kindly would
Fill up her stocking, too, to-night,
And help to make her Christmas bright.
If you've not enough for both stockings there,
Please put all in Clara's, I shall not care."

Saint Nicholas brushed a tear from his eye,
And, "God bless you, darling," he said with a sigh;
Then softly he blew through the chimney high
A note like a bird's, as it soars on high,
When down came two of the funniest mortals
That ever were seen this side earth's portals.

"Hurry up," said Saint Nick, "and nicely prepare
All a little girl wants where money is rare."
Then, oh, what a scene there was in that room!
Away went the elves, but down from the gloom
Of the sooty old chimney came tumbling low
A child's whole wardrobe, from head to toe.

How Santa Clans laughed, as he gathered them in,
And fastened each one to the sock with a pin;
Right to the toe he hung a blue dress,--
"She'll think it came from the sky, I guess,"
Said Saint Nicholas, smoothing the folds of blue,
And tying the hood to the stocking, too.

When all the warm clothes were fastened on,
And both little socks were filled and done,
Then Santa Claus tucked a toy here and there,
And hurried away to the frosty air,
Saying, "God pity the poor, and bless the dear child
Who pities them, too, on this night so wild."

The wind caught the words and bore them on high
Till they died away in the midnight sky;
While Saint Nicholas flew through the icy air,
Bringing "peace and good will" with him everywhere.


Christmas Fancies
    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow,
We hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago,
And etched on vacant places
Are half-forgotten faces
Of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know -
When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow.

Uprising from the ocean of the present surging near,
We see, with strange emotion, that is not free from fear,
That continent Elysian
Long vanished from our vision,
Youth's lovely lost Atlantis, so mourned for and so dear,
Uprising from the ocean of the present surging near.

When gloomy, gray Decembers are roused to Christmas mirth,
The dullest life remembers there once was joy on earth,
And draws from youth's recesses
Some memory it possesses,
And, gazing through the lens of time, exaggerates its worth,
When gloomy, gray December is roused to Christmas mirth.

When hanging up the holly or mistletoe, I wis
Each heart recalls some folly that lit the world with bliss.
Not all the seers and sages
With wisdom of the ages
Can give the mind such pleasure as memories of that kiss
When hanging up the holly or mistletoe, I wis.

For life was made for loving, and love alone repays,
As passing years are proving, for all of Time's sad ways.
There lies a sting in pleasure,
And fame gives shallow measure,
And wealth is but a phantom that mocks the restless days,
For life was made for loving, and only loving pays.

When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes,
And silences are melting to soft, melodious rhymes,
Let Love, the world's beginning,
End fear and hate and sinning;
Let Love, the God Eternal, be worshipped in all climes
When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes.


Christmas Everywhere
    by Philllips Brooks

Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas to-night!
Christmas in lands of the fir-tree and pine,
Christmas in lands of the palm-tree and vine,
Christmas where snow-peaks stand solemn and white,
Christmas where corn-fields lie sunny and bright,
Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas to-night!

Christmas where children are hopeful and gay,
Christmas where old men are patient and gray,
Christmas where peace, like a dove in its flight,
Broods o'er brave men in the thick of the fight;
Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!

For the Christ-child who comes is the Master of all,
No palace too great and no cottage too small,
The angels who welcome Him sing from the height:
"In the city of David, a King in his might."
Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!

Then let every heart keep its Christmas within,
Christ's pity for sorrow, Christ's hatred of sin,
Christ's care for the weakest, Christ's courage for right,
Christ's dread of the darkness, Christ's love of the light.
Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!

So the stars of the midnight which compass us round
Shall see a strange glory, and hear a sweet sound,
And cry, "Look! the earth is aflame with delight,
O sons of the morning, rejoice at the sight."
Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!


The Traveller
    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Bristling with steeples, high against the hill,
Like some great thistle in the rosy dawn
It stood; the Town-of-Christian-Churches, stood.
The Traveller surveyed it with a smile.
'Surely,' He said, 'here is the home of peace;
Here neighbour lives with neighbour in accord;
God in the heart of all. Else why these spires?'
(Christmas season, and every bell ringing.)

The sudden shriek of whistles changed the sound
From mellow music into jarring noise.
Then down the street pale hurrying children came,
And vanished in the yawning Factory door.
He called to them: 'Come back, come unto Me.'
The Foreman cursed, and caned Him from the place.
(Christmas season, and every bell ringing.)

Forth from two churches came two men, and met,
Disputing loudly over boundary lines,
Hate in their eyes, and murder in their hearts.
A haughty woman drew her skirts aside
Because her fallen sister passed that way.
The Traveller rebuked them all. Amazed,
They asked in indignation, 'Who are you,
Daring to interfere in private lives?'
The Traveller replied, 'My name is CHRIST.'
(Christmas season, and every bell ringing.)


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