’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through 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,
The windows were fastened with wild garlic-heads;
The doors were all sealed up with cold iron nails,
Secure against vampires and other travails.
But down in the basement, a dark shape was stirring:
A motion that said something bad was occurring.
A nightmarish shadow rose up from the floor,
And reached out its hands, as if summoning more!
Then out on the roof there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Was as stark and as cold as the valleys below;
And there on the tiles was a man dressed in black,
With a bundle of weapons tied up in a sack.
He was clad in dark fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
He had a broad face, and his eyes were aglow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
His black hood was bordered with bright golden thread,
And the hilt of his sword bore an iron death’s-head.
He sprang to my window so lithe and so quick,
I knew this vampire hunter was surely Saint Nick.
He called to his helpers as swiftly he came,
And they answered to many a wonderful name:
“Now Slasher! Now Viper! Now, Sniper and Hexen!
On, Comet! On, Lancer! On, Donner and Blitzen!”
They came at his call, with a terrible yell:
A pack of black mastiffs, like hounds out of hell.
They rushed into the courtyard and then, with a roar,
They bayed at the moon as if hungry for war.
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 mastiffs they flew,
And they milled all around like a villainous crew.
“Now make haste!” cried St Nick, “for there’s danger afoot,
A villain whose evil is blacker than soot.
To the top of the stairs! To the top of the hall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
Then they came through the window and thundered inside,
And they roared down the halls and they flung the doors wide.
More rapid than eagles, the hunters they came,
With jaws full of teeth and with eyes full of flame.
But their search availed nothing; for, all through the house,
Not a vampire was stirring, or even a mouse.
I turned to Saint Nick, as I stood at his side.
“It’s quiet,” I said. “It’s too quiet,” he replied.
He raised his head high, and he sniffed at the air.
“It’s just as I thought,” he said; “something is here.”
He looked all around and gave me a quick nod,
And then down the dark corridor grimly he trod.
He searched the house over, and checked every room,
His stormy eyes piercing the darkness and gloom,
Till he stopped in a hall on the bottom-most floor,
And his eyes came to rest on the old cellar door.
He reached out a hand and he grasped the oak handle,
And paused in the light of a flickering candle.
Then he threw the door wide, and stepped up to the brink;
But at first we saw nothing but shadows like ink.
Then up from the dark came a terrible horde:
A coven of vampires, and their dark vampire lord.
They flew out of the basement with screeches malign,
And the sight of their eyes brought a chill to my spine.
Their cloaks were deep black and their boots were black, too.
They had talons for fingernails; ghastly but true.
Their flesh was all sunken and wasted, but still
They moved horribly quickly, all ready to kill.
Their teeth were so white and their mouths were so red
And their faces so pale that they filled me with dread.
I wanted to run, but St Nick held me back;
“Take courage,” he said, “for we’ll beat this attack.”
Then he gave a loud whistle and summoned his hounds,
And they answered with joy, leaping up with great bounds.
They turned on the vampires and fierce was their battle,
A furious conflict that made the house rattle.
The vampires were filled with the power of the night,
But the teeth of the mastiffs soon put them to flight.
In a minute the minions all fled far away—
And the lord of the vampires stood there, at bay.
He stood in their midst with a furious glower,
And the sight of his eyes made the mastiffs all cower.
He turned toward me and I drew back, afraid—
But St Nick was still there, and he drew his great blade.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And beheaded the vampire, then turned with a jerk.
He wiped off his sword and then, wrinkling his nose,
Stepped back to observe his dead foe decompose.
With that, a great feeling of dread seemed to flee,
And I took a deep breath, feeling happy and free.
St Nicholas winked, and dismissed his black hounds,
And, yelping with joy, they ran out of the grounds.
And as for Saint Nick—he went up to the roof
And returned to the night, leaving me with no proof.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he flew out of sight,
“Good hunting to all—and to all, a good night!”
This poem incorporates lines, phrases and ideas from “A Visit From Saint Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore (1823).
© 2009 by Angus MacSpon • Contact • Writing page