Denver VOICE vendor Brian Augustine has written a personal tribute to his favourite poem – Clement Clarke Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, also known as A Visit from St. Nicholas.
Brian altered the original to focus the poem on a group of homeless people sleeping rough who encounter St. Nicholas on Christmas Eve. His version is as magical and uplifting as the original.
As Brian says, “We vendors from street papers are lucky, for we see Santa everyday in the eyes of our customers and friends.”
If you’d like to hear more from Brian, he also features in our #INSPadvent calendar.
Homeless ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
By Brian Augustine, Denver VOICE vendor
‘Twas the night before Christmas
We were all under some trees.
Not a creature was stirring, not even Ken’s fleas
All of our stockings were changed with care
to ward off the icy winter air.
The others were all snug in their beds
while visions of warm food danced in their heads.
But Ma in her Coleman and I in my wrap
had just settled down for cold winter’s nap.
When out in the field, there was such a clatter.
I rose to see if the police had asked us to scatter.
I ran to the bushes and laid down flat;
I zipped up my coat and pulled down my hat.
The glow from the street lights on the new fallen snow
gave the luster of midday to the field below.
When to what did my wandering eyes did appear,
but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.
And a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Saint Nick.
More rapid then jets, his courses they flew,
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 bridge! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!
As dry leaves that before a wild hurricane fly,
when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
so up to the overpass the courses they flew,
with a sleigh full of gifts and St. Nicholas too!
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the turf,
the dancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew back my head, and was turning around,
across the field 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 gifts he had flung on his back,
and he looked 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 his beard, like mine, was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe, in his teeth he did hold,
and the smoke puffed out like my breath in the cold.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful 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 sleigh,
and brought us some food and nice treats on a tray.
Then he put his hand gently atop of our hair,
looked in our eyes, and told us he really did care.
He gave us knit hats and scarves, and warm woolen socks,
gift cards for fast food and groceries, all in a box.
All the gifts he did give us, I cannot say.
It surprised us that it came from one sleigh.
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, as he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.”