The (Tudor) Night before Christmas
by Sarah Hemming (with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)
T’was the night before Christmas, as the old poem goes
Not a creature was stirring upon the ship, Mary Rose;
The rigging was hung from the masts with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The crew were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of French Fleets sank in their heads,
Master Carpenter in jerkin, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap —
When out on the water there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew without thought,
Bounding past shots, to the open gun-port.
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 bowmen, 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! Donner and Blitzen;
“To the top of the mast! To the top of the bow!
“Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away now!”
So up to the castle deck the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of gifts — and St. Nicholas too:
The yonkers and grommets,their jaws would have dropped,
If they hadn’t been dozing, down on the Orlop
St Nick’s eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth drawn up like a longbow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Put out all the presents; then turn’d with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the mast 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.