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"Night Before Christmas" recited by The Trail Band, with illustrations from many antique editions
YouTube ^

Posted on 12/24/2017 11:27:45 AM PST by mairdie

From my collection of antique editions of the Christmas poem.

TOPICS: Arts/Photography; Music/Entertainment; Poetry
KEYWORDS: christmas
Right-click View Image for larger image

1 posted on 12/24/2017 11:27:45 AM PST by mairdie
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To: mairdie

Major Henry Livingston, Jr. was an expert prosesmith. What a powerful command of English. His poem always gives me goosebumps.

It was published anonymously, so I doubt he ever received a penny for his labors.

2 posted on 12/24/2017 11:39:34 AM PST by ProtectOurFreedom
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To: mairdie

I forgot to say “thanks” for posting this. How great that the city of Troy wrote this proclamation.

3 posted on 12/24/2017 11:41:17 AM PST by ProtectOurFreedom
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To: mairdie
Vassar President Henry Nobel MacCracken:

There runs through all Professor Moore's verse a kind of frustration. He feels he should be a greater man than he is, a greater poet. The public did not agree with him, even about his poetry. His friendst ried to get him to relax, but he never let down his moral guard. Dr. Willy Bard tried to get him to come to a dance, but Moore answered the famous physician in a surly poem. He was a self-torturing Midas; all around him was a rich harvest of poetry, which he turned to lead.

U of Pennsylvania Professor of English and Co-founder of the Folklore Department Tristram Potter Coffin

The truth probably is that Moore heard verses about a visit from St. Nicholas somehow, somewhere, perhaps from the "Dutch gardener," perhaps in his twenties from a governess or guest. He probably reworked these verses, possibly adding enough that he came to think of them as his own. Probably the original from which he worked and which had come to him via the gardener or "young lady" was a poem by Henry Livingston, Jr. Certainly, Livingston makes a better father for this particular brainchild than Moore. Moore was a learned, ponderous man, "educated for the church," with a limited penchant for gaiety, while Livingston was a whimsical chap who once switched the lyrics in his music book from "God Save the King" to "God Save Congress" and who produced a steady stream of light, occasional verse, much of it in the same meter as "The Night Before ..."

Auckland University Professor Emeritus Mac Jackson

It must be emphasized that the most significant tests conducted here are not of lexical items whose presence or absence depends on content. They are of the frequencies of common words such as "the," "on," "as," "at," "to," "that," "would," and "some"; locutions such as "many a" and "in vain"; and phoneme pairs comprised of the last phonetic symbol in one word and the first in the next. These elements of composition are not readily subject to imitation. Their rates of use are largely beyond a writer's conscious control. They distinguish Moore's verse from Livingston's and they classify "The Night Before Christmas" with the latter. The reasonable conclusion is that "The Night Before Christmas" was composed by Henry Livingston.
4 posted on 12/24/2017 11:44:08 AM PST by mairdie
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To: mairdie

The many varied illustrations on the YouTube video are tremendous. So many interpretations!

5 posted on 12/24/2017 11:46:35 AM PST by ProtectOurFreedom
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To: mairdie

Fascinating history...Moore was a learned, ponderous man, “educated for the church,” with a limited penchant for gaiety, while Livingston was a “whimsical chap”

LOL — “a limited penchant for fairy.” IOW, a grump.

6 posted on 12/24/2017 11:49:52 AM PST by ProtectOurFreedom
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To: ProtectOurFreedom
I was at the table for the mock trial and was thrilled that the jury came down for Henry. I love collecting art, and this is a great reciting of the poem.

Henry wrote for love, not for money or for recognition. His family were all famous, but he chose to live on the land, as a farmer and surveyor. From his writing you get an idea of his education, but mostly of a good man who wrote with love and a gentle moral hand.


From the 1819 Carrier Address

Believe me, dear patrons, I have wand'red too far,
Without any compass, or planet or star;
My dear native village I scarcely can see
So I'll hie to my hive like the tempest-tost bee.
Hail home! sacred home! to my soul ever dear;
Abroad may be wonders but rapture is here.
My future ambition will never soar higher
Than the clean brushed hearth and convivial fire;
Here I lounge at my pleasure, and bask at my ease,
Full readily sooth'd, and desirous to please,
As happy myself as I happy can be,
I wish all the circle as happy as me.

But hark what a clatter! the Jolly bells ringing,
The lads and the lasses so jovially singing,
Tis New-Years they shout and then haul me along
In the midst of their merry-make Juvenile throng;
But I burst from their grasp: unforgetful of duty
To first pay obeisence to wisdom and Beauty,
My conscience and int'rest unite to command it,
And you, my kind PATRONS, deserve & demand it.
On your patience to trespass no longer I dare,
So bowing, I wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR.


I rise when I please, when I please I lie down
Nor seek, what I care not a rush for, renown:
The rattle call'd wealth I have learnt to despise
Nor aim to be either important or wise.

Let women & children & children-like men
Pursue the false trollop the world has called fame.
Who just as enjoyed, is instantly flown
And leaves disappointment the hag in her room.

If the world is content not to stand in my way
The world may jog on both by night & by day
Unimpeded by me - not a straw will I put
Where a dear fellow-creature uplifteth its foot.

While my conscience upbraids not, I'll rise and lye down
Nor envy a monarch his cares and his crown.


Without distinction, fame, or note
Upon the tide of life I float,
A bubble almost lost to sight
As cobweb frail, as vapor light;
And yet within that bubble lies
A spark of life which never dies.


I LOVE my feeble voice to raise
In humble pray'r and ardent praise
Till my rapt soul attains that height
When all is glory and delight.

I LOVE to read the book of Heav'n
Which Grace to fall'n man has giv'n;
Where evr'y page and evr'y line
Proclaims its origin divine.

I LOVE that consecrated Fane
Where GOD has stamp'd his holy name:
United with my brethren there
We hear the word and join in pray'r.

I LOVE to join the pious few
And there the covenant renew,
Recount our joys, relate our grief
And jointly ask from GOD relief.

I LOVE on Pity's wing to fly
To sooth the deep expiring sigh,
To wipe the tear from wan distress
And light a smile on Sorrow's face.

I LOVE to view domestic bliss
Bound with the ligature of peace,
Where Parents - Children - All agree
To tune the lute of harmony.

I LOVE the morning's roseate ray,
I bless the glorious march of day,
And when the lulling ev'ning comes
I love the night amidst its glooms.


For Timmy Dwight, the son of his cousin Yale President Rev Dr Timothy Dwight

Master Timmy brisk and airy
Blythe as Oberon the fairy
On thy head thy cousin wishes
Thousand and ten thousand blisses.

Never may thy wicket ball
In a well or puddle fall;
Or thy wild ambitious kite
O'er the Elm's thick foliage light.

When on bended knee thou sittest
And the mark in fancy hittest
May thy marble truly trace
Where thy wishes mark'd the place.

If at hide and seek you play,
All involved in the hay
Titt'ring hear the joyful sound
"Timmy never can be found."

If you hop or if you run
Or whatever is the fun,
Vic'try with her sounding pinion
Hover o'er her little minion.

But when hunger calls the boys
From their helter skelter joys:
Bread and cheese in order standing
For their most rapacious handling
Timmy may thy luncheon be
More than Ben's as five to three.

But if hasty pudding's dish
Meet thy vast capacious wish -
Or lob-lollys charming jelly
Court thy cormorantal belly
Mortal foe to megre fast
Be thy spoonful first & last.


On this thy natal day permit a friend -
A brother - with thy joys his own to blend:
In all thy gladness he would wish to share
As willing in thy griefs a part to bear.

Meekly attend the ways of higher heav'n!
Is much deny'd? Yet much my dear is giv'n.
Thy health, thy reason unimpaired remain
And while as new fal'n snows thy spotless fame.
The partner of thy life, attentive - kind -
And blending e'en the interests of the mind.

What bliss is thine when fore thy glistn'ing eye
Thy lovely infant train pass jocund by!
The ruddy cheek, the smiling morning face
Denote a healthy undegenerate race:
In them renew'd, you'll live & live again,
And children's children's children lisp thy name

Bright be the skies where'er my sister goes
Nor scowling tempests injure her repose -
The field of life with roses thick be strow'd
Nor one sharp thorn lie lurking in the road.
Thy ev'ry path be still a path of peace
And each revolving year thy joys increase;
Till hours & years & time itself be o'er
And one eternal day around thee pour.

7 posted on 12/24/2017 11:57:12 AM PST by mairdie
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To: mairdie
A good example of Moore's ponderous poetry. He was always perfect in rhythm and rhyme. Just boring. That was one of the literary hints that Night Before Christmas was Henry's, before the statistical analysis. NBC in the 1823 version is sloppy, like Henry's fast writing. Most of the edits that ended up in Moore's 1844 version came not from Moore, but from the Troy Sentinel editor who sent a copy of the massively edited 1830 version to Moore when Moore asked if the editor knew when he published who had written the poem. Don called that "the coast is clear" letter.

Full well I know what direful wrath impends,
From Fashion's gay and numerous host of friends,
O'er all who blindly list not in her cause,
Nor swear eternal fealty to her laws.
I know with what despotic sway she rules
O'er old and young, o'er wise as well as fools;
In what imperious tones she bids the throng
Obey her word, though Heav'n pronounce it wrong.

Yet, though my crimes against this power so high
Be numberless, and oft of deepest dye,
Leave I entreat to extenuate my blame:
A right which guiltiest criminals may claim;
E'en they who fly not at a Lady's call,
And dare withstand the attraction of a ball.

Of magic zones and rings you oft have heard,
By fairies on their favorites conferred,
Which pinch'd the wearers sore, or made them bleed,
Whene'er they went astray in thought or deed.
Nor think these stories false because they're old,
But true as this which soon I will unfold.

Sweet sleep had shed its mists around my eyes,
And fancy's motley forms began to rise,
When, 'mid these fleeting phantoms of the night,
A vision stood distinct before my sight.
Though far below the human size it seem'd
A dazzling brightness from its visage beam'd.
My airy dreams it seem'd to chase away,
And thus in sweetest accents deign'd to say:

"Hail, Youth! In me behold a friendly power,
Thy guard in every place, at every hour,
Who thus appear expos'd to mortal view,
Clearly to mark the course you should pursue.
To me 'tis giv'n your virtue to secure
From custom's force and pleasure's dangerous lure.
I watch the motions of your youthful mind,
Rejoicing when to virtue 'tis inclin'd;
But when a growing folly is descried,
To root it out, no art I leave untried.
Those drugs I mix in pleasure's luscious bowl
Which pain the body to preserve the soul.
That listlessness, those qualms, those aches I send
Which dissipation's giddy round attend.
Nor let these warnings, by your Guardian giv'n,
By winning pleasure from your thoughts be driv'n.
For if, regardless of my friendly voice,
In Fashion's gaudy scenes your heart rejoice,
Dire punishments shall fall upon your head:
Disgust, and fretfulness, and secret dread.
Unmeaning forms shall swim before your eyes,
Wild as the clouds which float in vernal skies.

But if true wisdom all your thoughts employ,
I promise lasting peace and health and joy.
A mind untouch'd by malice or by spleen
Shall make your slumbers light, your thoughts serene;
And through the ills which mortals must betide
I still will be your counsellor and guide."

So spoke the friendly power; then, waving light
His azure pinions, vanish'd from my sight.
Such is the guardian Genius, ever near,
Whose love I strive to gain, whose wrath I fear.
But, when his favoring smiles I would secure,
Complaining friendship's frown I oft endure;
And now, for open breach of Fashion's laws,
A criminal, am forc'd to plead my cause.
Such is my lot; and though I guilty prove,
Compassion sure my Judge's breast will move.
Not pardon for my fault I hope to find;
But humbly pray, you'll change to one more kind
The threaten'd sentence, cruel as 'tis hard,
To lose forever your benign regard.

8 posted on 12/24/2017 12:03:59 PM PST by mairdie
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To: ADemocratNoMore


9 posted on 12/24/2017 12:13:29 PM PST by mairdie
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