A Visit from St. Nicholas

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Tittelsiden på en utgave av diktet fra 1912 med illustrasjoner av Jessie Willcox Smith

A Visit from St. Nicholas, også kjent som The Night Before Christmas eller Twas the Night Before Christmas, er et engelsk dikt som ble utgitt anonymt år 1823. Forfatteren av diktet er Clement Clarke Moore. Diktet har spilt en stor rolle i utviklingen av forestillingene om julenissen fra midten av 1800-tallet til i dag, både når det gjelder utseende og oppførsel. Her blir nissens nattlige besøk og sleden med reinsdyrene nevnt for første gang.

Julenissens angivelig åtte reinsdyr gis også sine navn her. Sangen Rudolf er rød på nesen fra 1939 bygger videre på myteuniverset fra dette diktet, og introduserer Rudolf som det ukjente niende reinsdyret.

Diktet er oversatt til norsk av Halldis Moren Vesaas under tittelen Da Sankte Klaus var her, og utgitt i Thorbjørn Egners lesebok bind IX, side 164.

I originalversjonen lyder diktet slik:

Sitat

'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 danced in their heads

And Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled DOWN 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 luster of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
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! Dunder and Blixem;
"To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
"Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that 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.

Sitat


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