All Things Writing

Merry Christmas! A reading and a few fun facts about "Twas The Night Before Christmas".

December 25, 2020 Bryan the Writer Season 1 Episode 37
All Things Writing
Merry Christmas! A reading and a few fun facts about "Twas The Night Before Christmas".
Chapters
All Things Writing
Merry Christmas! A reading and a few fun facts about "Twas The Night Before Christmas".
Dec 25, 2020 Season 1 Episode 37
Bryan the Writer

Welcome and Merry Christmas!

As you undoubtedly know by now, this is my favorite time of the year. I love the decorations, the lights, I love the stories. I know I mentioned my love of A Christmas story, but what you may not know is that I have a favorite Christmas poem. I love it so much in fact that this week I am dedicating a whole show to it.

Not only is it an amazing poem, but it is also one of the oldest and most popular Christmas poems ever written. The poem, originally titled, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, now more popularly called “Twas the Night Begore Christmas” was written in the early 19th century. 

Considerable controversy surrounded the authorship for many years. It is believed that either Clement Clark Moore or Henry Livingston, Jr. were the authors. 

Clement Clarke Moore lived between 1779 and 1863. A writer and American Professor of Oriental and Greek Literature, he also taught Divinity and Biblical Learning, in New York City. He rose to prominence and eventually donated the land which would become a seminary, which continues at Chelsea Square. 

It is believed that Professor Moore wrote the poem for his children. Initially he didn’t want to publish it as he was afraid of his reputation as a scholar. As the story has it, he eventually did publish the story anonymously on Dec. 23, 1823 in the Troy Sentinel newspaper in upstate New York.

Henry Livingston Jr., although there is really no evidence he claimed authorship of the piece during his life time, is also credited with writing the piece.

Henry Livingston Jr., was a revolutionary war soldier and late became a poet. His children had claimed that the poem, “A visit from St. Nicholas”, was something they remember their father reading them a number of years earlier.

One of the descendants claimed to have had the original story, with cross outs, in the text, but that was destroyed in a house fire in Wisconsin. So, there is no way to authenticate his story.

The two men didn’t know eachtoher, although one of the Livingston relatives did marry a relative of Moore’s. There is no evidence Moore could have gotten a copy from Livingston or vice verse.

Based on the facts surrounding this strange case of who is the real author, I would argue that likely Professor Moore is the author. However, there is one other fact you may want to know. 

A fairly recent study of the grammatical structure of the piece and the writings of both men suggest that Livingston may have been the actual author.

What is also tantalizing is that in the original version of the poem, what we commonly name the reindeer, “Donner and Blitzen”, are spelled “Dunder and Blixem”. Which is Dutch. Livingston was Dutch, while Moore was not. Moore did not speak Dutch either.

So, maybe I change my vote to Livingston?

I am not going to wade farther into this controversy. But I think it is fascinating that after all these years there are still some mysteries out there which cannot be solved objectively. And isn’t that what a good story is? A mystery?

For when we pick up a book, short story, or a poem, there is a quickening of our heartbeat, a more rapid movement of our blood, a tingle on our skin as we have no idea how that story is going to end. That is what good writing does for us. It provides mystery.

As the poem ends, Happy Christmas to All, and to All a Goodnight!

Support the show (http://paypal.me/BryanNowak)

Show Notes Transcript

Welcome and Merry Christmas!

As you undoubtedly know by now, this is my favorite time of the year. I love the decorations, the lights, I love the stories. I know I mentioned my love of A Christmas story, but what you may not know is that I have a favorite Christmas poem. I love it so much in fact that this week I am dedicating a whole show to it.

Not only is it an amazing poem, but it is also one of the oldest and most popular Christmas poems ever written. The poem, originally titled, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, now more popularly called “Twas the Night Begore Christmas” was written in the early 19th century. 

Considerable controversy surrounded the authorship for many years. It is believed that either Clement Clark Moore or Henry Livingston, Jr. were the authors. 

Clement Clarke Moore lived between 1779 and 1863. A writer and American Professor of Oriental and Greek Literature, he also taught Divinity and Biblical Learning, in New York City. He rose to prominence and eventually donated the land which would become a seminary, which continues at Chelsea Square. 

It is believed that Professor Moore wrote the poem for his children. Initially he didn’t want to publish it as he was afraid of his reputation as a scholar. As the story has it, he eventually did publish the story anonymously on Dec. 23, 1823 in the Troy Sentinel newspaper in upstate New York.

Henry Livingston Jr., although there is really no evidence he claimed authorship of the piece during his life time, is also credited with writing the piece.

Henry Livingston Jr., was a revolutionary war soldier and late became a poet. His children had claimed that the poem, “A visit from St. Nicholas”, was something they remember their father reading them a number of years earlier.

One of the descendants claimed to have had the original story, with cross outs, in the text, but that was destroyed in a house fire in Wisconsin. So, there is no way to authenticate his story.

The two men didn’t know eachtoher, although one of the Livingston relatives did marry a relative of Moore’s. There is no evidence Moore could have gotten a copy from Livingston or vice verse.

Based on the facts surrounding this strange case of who is the real author, I would argue that likely Professor Moore is the author. However, there is one other fact you may want to know. 

A fairly recent study of the grammatical structure of the piece and the writings of both men suggest that Livingston may have been the actual author.

What is also tantalizing is that in the original version of the poem, what we commonly name the reindeer, “Donner and Blitzen”, are spelled “Dunder and Blixem”. Which is Dutch. Livingston was Dutch, while Moore was not. Moore did not speak Dutch either.

So, maybe I change my vote to Livingston?

I am not going to wade farther into this controversy. But I think it is fascinating that after all these years there are still some mysteries out there which cannot be solved objectively. And isn’t that what a good story is? A mystery?

For when we pick up a book, short story, or a poem, there is a quickening of our heartbeat, a more rapid movement of our blood, a tingle on our skin as we have no idea how that story is going to end. That is what good writing does for us. It provides mystery.

As the poem ends, Happy Christmas to All, and to All a Goodnight!

Support the show (http://paypal.me/BryanNowak)

Welcome and Merry Christmas!

As you undoubtedly know by now, this is my favorite time of the year. I love the decorations, the lights, I love the stories. I know I mentioned my love of A Christmas story, but what you may not know is that I have a favorite Christmas poem. I love it so much in fact that this week I am dedicating a whole show to it.

Not only is it an amazing poem, but it is also one of the oldest and most popular Christmas poems ever written.

It has been re-written, re-told, re-tooled, and I think it was actually made into a cartoon as I remember which was shown on TV when I was a kid.

The poem, originally titled, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, now more popularly called “Twas the Night Begore Christmas” was written in the early 19th century. 

Although the words are undoubtedly familiar to you, what you may not have known was that considerable controversy surrounded the authorship for many years. It is believed that either Clement Clark Moore or Henry Livingston, Jr. were the authors. 

Clement Clarke Moore lived between 1779 and 1863. A writer and American Professor of Oriental and Greek Literature, he also taught Divinity and Biblical Learning, in New York City. He rose to prominence and eventually donated the land which would become a seminary, which continues at Chelsea Square. 

It is believed that Professor Moore wrote the poem for his children. Initially he didn’t want to publish it as he was afraid of his reputation as a scholar. As the story has it, he eventually did publish the story anonymously on Dec. 23, 1823 in the Troy Sentinel newspaper in upstate New York.

He continued to refuse to confirm or deny writing the poem even after the publisher let it slip that Moore was indeed the author. It would only be in the later years where Moore would take credit for the poem as it is listed in his works.

Now, you would think that a controversy which is almost two hundred years old would be something that people would let go. But no. The controversy still continues today.

You see, Henry Livingston Jr., although there is really no evidence he claimed authorship of the piece during his life time, is also credited with writing the piece.

Henry Livingston Jr., was a revolutionary war soldier and late became a poet. His children had claimed that the poem, “A visit from St. Nicholas”, was something they remember their father reading them a number of years earlier.

One of the descendants claimed to have had the original story, with cross outs, in the text, but that was destroyed in a house fire in Wisconsin. So, there is no way to authenticate his story.

The two men didn’t know eachtoher, although one of the Livingston relatives did marry a relative of Moore’s. There is no evidence Moore could have gotten a copy from Livingston or vice verse.

Based on the facts surrounding this strange case of who is the real author, I would argue that likely Professor Moore is the author. However, there is one other fact you may want to know. 

A fairly recent study of the grammatical structure of the piece and the writings of both men suggest that Livingston may have been the actual author.

What is also tantalizing is that in the original version of the poem, what we commonly name the reindeer, “Donner and Blitzen”, are spelled “Dunder and Blixem”. Which is Dutch. Livingston was Dutch, while Moore was not. Moore did not speak Dutch either.

So, maybe I change my vote to Livingston?

I am not going to wade farther into this controversy. But I think it is fascinating that after all these years there are still some mysteries out there which cannot be solved objectively. And isn’t that what a good story is? A mystery?

For when we pick up a book, short story, or a poem, there is a quickening of our heartbeat, a more rapid movement of our blood, a tingle on our skin as we have no idea how that story is going to end. That is what good writing does for us. It provides mystery.

So, without further ado, here is my reading of, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” or “Twas The Night Before Christmas,” by Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston Jr. as it was first published in the in the Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1823.

 

“‘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! 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 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.”