A Visit from St. Nicholas

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 my 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 a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he 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, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop 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 pedler 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 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 bowl full 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 of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Summary of A Visit from St. Nicholas

  • Popularity: A Visit from St. Nicholas was written by Clement Clarke Moore, a famous American poet. It was first published in 1823 in The New York Newspaper, Sentinel with the title “A Visit from St. Nicholas” Later it became popular with its first line, “Twas the night before Christmas.” This poem is one of the most appreciated poems because of its religious significance presented through poetry. The poem illustrates the excitement of a family at the arrival of St. Nicholas. Its popularity lies with the subject of Christmas celebrated every year across the globe.
  • “A Visit from St. Nicholas” as a Representative of Joy: This poem is about children, and written from the perspective of a young child who was waiting for St. Nicholas on the Christmas Eve. Every year, St. Nicholas comes with a lot of gifts and candies. As the child hears him, he carefully examines his arrival, manner, and The expression of wonder starts from the beginning and runs throughout the poem. However, what stays in the minds of the readers is the magical appearance of St. Nicholas and the endless joy of the family he visits.
  • Major Themes “A Visit from St. Nicholas”: Joy, happiness, and surprise are the significant themes described in the poem. The poet has presented the enthusiasm of a family on Christmas The night is quiet and dark, and the family is happy with their eyes fixed on the stockings, which are soon going to be filled with presents. Meanwhile, they witness the magical appearance of St. Nicholas.  To their surprise, he comes and fills their stockings and then disappears. Thus, the arrival of St. Nicholas not only delights them but also adds color to their Christmas.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “A Visit from St. Nicholas”

Literary devices are used to bring richness and clarity to the texts. The writers and poets use them to make their poem or prose texts appealing and meaningful. Moore. Too, has used some literary devices in this poem to show the magical arrival of St. Nicholas. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  • Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /w/ in “When what to my wondering eyes did appear” and /c/ sound in “On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen”.
  • Simile: Simile is a figure of speech used to compare an object with something else to make the meanings more vivid to the readers. Clement had used similes in the poem such as, “He had a broad face and a little round belly; That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.” He compares the belly of St. Nicholas with a bowl of jelly. Other examples are, “Away to the window I flew like a flash” “And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath” and “And he looked like a pedlar just opening his pack.”
  • Metaphor: Metaphor means when a word or a phrase used to describe an object or an action which is not entirely true but can help the readers to compare and have a vivid idea of an object, action or a person. At the end of the poem, Nicholas is compared to an old elf “He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf”.
  • Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /l/ in “With a little old driver so lively and quick” and /o/ sound in “On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and
  • Personification: Personification is to attribute human characteristics to inanimate things. The poet has used personification in the sixth line “While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads” as if the sugar-plums are humans that can dance.
  • Imagery: Imagery is the use of words and descriptions to let the readers feel and see things through five senses. Clement has used images to present the clear and vivid picture of Christmas celebrations such as, “The children were nestled all snug in their beds”; “The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth” and “And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.”
  • Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /sh/ in “Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!” and /l/ sound in “That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.”

The literary analysis shows that Clement has beautifully employed the above devices to show the excitement of the family on Christmas Eve.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in A Visit from St. Nicholas

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  • Couplet: There are two constructive lines of verse in a couplet, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme. There are twenty-eight rhyming couplets of anapaestic tetrameter in this poem.
  • Rhyme Scheme: The whole poem follows the AABB rhyme scheme throughout the poem.
  • Anapaest Tetrameter: It is a meter in which there are four anapaestic metrical feet per line. Each foot has two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable. The whole poem follows the anapaestic tetrameter such as,Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house.”

Quotes to be used

These lines can be used in a speech when discussing the mesmerizing beauty of the moon. These could also be used when narrating any personal experience of sighting the moonbeams in a snowy winter night.

“The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below.”