'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 lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a steel battlesleigh, and eight giant reindeer,
Whose great grizzled driver stretched his neck with a crick,
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! Thrasher, now! Crasher, now! Cancer and Hakon,
"On! Plummet, on! Cesspit, on! Thunder and Blacken;
"To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
"Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"
As dry leaves 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 death — and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The thunder and rumbling of each monstrous 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 blades was flung on his back,
Axes and crossbows and swords in his sack:
His eyes burned with balefire, his teeth gleamed like ice,
His thews wrought of iron, his bones hewn from gneiss;
His great savage grin was taut, tight as 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 grim face, and a great barrel chest
That shook when he laugh'd at some grim pagan jest:
He was massive and strong, a vision from Hell,
And I scream'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 reason 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 clutching me by the crook of the throat,
He leapt up the chimney like a great mountain goat.
He sprung to his sleigh, and shot into the sky,
And dropped me to earth, to scream ere I die:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight —
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
(With profuse apologies to Clement Clark Moore. I was compelled to put something up for Christmas, so here's another classic ruined by shameless editing. As ever, I wish all my readers and Howard fans a marvellous Mitramas, a super Set Sacrificial Festival, a solemn, cheerless Cromhain, and of course, a merry Christmas!)