donderdag 15 december 2016

Het beroemde Amerikaanse kerstgedicht “Twas the Night Before Christmas”

Een boek uit 1912

In 1823 werd het gedicht 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' (ook wel 'A Visit from St. Nicholas' genoemd) anoniem in de New Yorkse krant 'Troy Sentinel' gepubliceerd. Clement Clarke Moore, een professor in de Oosterse en Griekse literatuur, kwam in 1837 naar voren als de auteur van het werk. Er zijn echter mensen die hieraan twijfelen en het gedicht aan Henry Livingston Jr toeschrijven. Men denkt dat het gedicht geïnspireerd is door het oudste Amerikaanse kerstgedicht Old Santaclaus with much delight uit 1821. Het is in Amerika van grote invloed geweest op het hedendaagse beeld dat er van de Kerstman bestaat. Voorbeelden hiervan zijn de 8 rendieren met hun namen (Rudolf werd pas in 1939 toegevoegd) en het feit dat de Kerstman cadeautjes via de schoorsteen brengt. Daarnaast is het bij veel Amerikaanse scholen en gezinnen een traditie om het gedicht met kerst voor te lezen.

   '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,
    While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
    And mamma 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 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 eagles his coursers they came,
    And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

    "Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
    On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
    To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
    Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

    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 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 dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
    And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
    A bundle of Toys 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 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 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 work,
    And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
    And laying his finger aside of his nose,
    And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

    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, ere he drove out of sight,
    "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

Lees hier de Nederlandse vertaling

Lees en kijk ook naar:

Kijk en luister hier naar de Nederlandse versie van het gedicht:

Of Luister naar de oorspronkelijke Engelstalige versie voorgelezen door Ernest Hare:

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