1840 The Madisonian

Brought to you by the website of Henry Livingston, the author of A Visit From St. Nicholas


This is the first version of the poem to attribute it to Clement Moore, a friend of Hoffman's. Hoffman changed the original reindeer name Dunder to its present day Donder. A favorite oath of Dutch Henry Livingston was Thunder and Lightning! That is, Dunder and Blixem!.

1'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
2Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
3The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
4In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
5The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
6While visions of sugar-plums danced through their heads;
7And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
8Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap-
9When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
10I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter:
11Away to the window I flew like a flash,
12Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
13The moon, on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
14Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
15When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
16But a minature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
17With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
18I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
19More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
20And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
21"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer! now Vixen!
22On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blixen-
23To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
24Now, dash away, dash away, dash away all!"
25As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
26When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
27So, up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
28With the sleigh full of toys - and St. Nicholas too.
29And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof
30The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
31As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
32Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
33He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
34And his clothes were all tarnish'd with ashes and soot;
35A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
36And he look'd like a pedlar just opening his pack.
37His eyes - how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
38His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
39His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
40And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
41The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
42And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.
43He had a broad face and a little round belly
44That shook, when he laugh'd, like a bowl full of jelly.
45He was chubby and plump; a right jolly old elf;
46And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
47A wink of his eye, and a twist of his head
48Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
49He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
50And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jirk,
51And laying his finger aside of his nose,
52And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
53He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
54And away they all flew like the down of a thistle;
55But I heard him exclaim ere he drove out of sight,
56"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"


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