Twas the Night before Christmas

The Short Version
(392 words)

A Visit from Santa Claus
by Clement Clark Moore adapted for ESL by David Cherry

On the night before Christmas, at my little house
all the creatures were sleeping, and also the mouse.
The stockings were hung on the chimney with care.
We were hoping that Santa Claus soon would be there.

The children were sleeping upstairs in their beds.
They dreamed about candy and cake in their heads.
And mom wore pyjamas, and I wore a cap.
We had just gone to bed for a long winter nap.

And then I woke up! I heard a strange sound!
I jumped out of the bed, and I looked all around!
I ran to the window and opened it wide.
I stuck out my head and was looking outside.

And then I saw something amazing appear!
It was a small sleigh with eight flying reindeer.
They were Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,
and Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blitzen!

And a little old man! I knew who he was!
I knew that it must be the real Santa Claus!
To the top of my house the reindeer all flew,
with the sleigh full of toys — and Santa Claus too.

I was very surprised and as I turned around,
I looked at the chimney and Santa came down:
He wore a red suit, from his head to his foot,
and his clothes were all covered with ashes and soot.

He carried a big bag of toys on his back,
and he looked like a street vendor opening his pack.
He was chubby and fat and he looked like an elf.
I laughed when I saw him! I could not help myself!

His eyes were so happy! His face was so merry.
His cheeks were like apples, his nose like a cherry.
His smile was so bright that it made his face glow,
and the beard on his face was as white as the snow.

He was happily working and smiling at me.
He put gifts in the stockings and under the tree.
He finished his work and was ready to go.
Then he took a deep breath and he laughed, “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

Then he climbed up the chimney and jumped in his sleigh.
And he gave a loud shout and they all flew away.
And I heard him say, as he flew out of sight —
Merry Christmas to you, and to you a good night!

The Original Version
(543 words)

A Visit from St. Nicholas
by Clement Clark Moore

The '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 minature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
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 call'd 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 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 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 toys was flung on his back,
And he look'd 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 laugh'd, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh'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 nothing 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 laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung 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 —
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!