A Visit from St. Nicholas

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The start of the poem, in the author's own hand. (Read the entire text here.)

An 1823 poem by Clement Clarke Moore about a visit from St. Nick. Originally titled A Visit from St. Nicholas and also known as "The Night Before Christmas" and " '​Twas the Night Before Christmas".

Here it is as read by none other than the trumpet master Louis Armstrong, himself.

Tropes used in A Visit from St. Nicholas include:
  • Adaptation Distillation: The poem crystallizes a number of ideas about St. Nicholas first found in Washington Irving's Knickerbocker History of New York.
  • Anonymous Author: The poem was first published anonymously.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty:
    • "On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen!" Only it isn't--the original poem retained the Dutch names Donder and Blixen, as was suitable to the old Dutch settlers of New York who introduced Sinterklaas Santa Claus to America. Later re-printings Retconned the names into their more familiar German forms. Interestingly, the 1912 edition published by Houghton Mifflin (and available at Project Gutenberg) splits the difference, giving the names "Donder and Blitzen".
    • The phrase "Merry Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"
  • Trope Codifier: As stated above, this little poem etched in stone a lot of the core image we have of Santa Claus.