by: Horatio Alger (1832-1899)

      N the far-off Polar seas,
      Far beyond the Hebrides,
      Where the icebergs, towering high,
      Seem to pierce the wintry sky,
      And the fur-clad Esquimaux
      Glides in sledges o'er the snow,
      Dwells St. Nick, the merry wight,
      Patron saint of Christmas night.

      Solid walls of massive ice,
      Bearing many a quaint device,
      Flanked by graceful turrets twain,
      Clear as clearest porcelain,
      Bearing at a lofty height
      Christ's pure cross in simple white,
      Carven with surpassing art
      From an iceberg's crystal heart.

      Here St. Nick, in royal state,
      Dwells, until December late
      Clips the days at either end,
      And the nights at each extend;
      Then, with his attendant sprites,
      Scours the earth on wintry nights,
      Bringing home, in well-filled hands,
      Children's gifts from many lands.

      Here are whistles, tops and toys,
      Meant to gladden little boys;
      Skates and sleds that soon will glide
      O'er the ice or steep hill-side.
      Here are dolls with flaxen curls,
      Sure to charm the little girls;
      Christmas books, with pictures gay,
      For this welcome holiday.

      In the court the reindeer wait;
      Filled the sledge with costly freight.
      As the first faint shadow falls,
      Promptly from his icy halls
      Steps St. Nick, and grasps the rein:
      And afar, in measured time,
      Sounds the sleigh-bells' silver chime.

      Like an arrow from the bow
      Speed the reindeer o'er the snow.
      Onward! Now the loaded sleigh
      Skirts the shores of Hudson's Bay.
      Onward, till the stunted tree
      Gains a loftier majesty,
      And the curling smoke-wreaths rise
      Under less inclement skies.

      Built upon a hill-side steep
      Lies a city wrapt in sleep.
      Up and down the lonely street
      Sleepy watchmen pace their beat.
      Little heeds them Santa Claus;
      Not for him are human laws.
      With a leap he leaves the ground,
      Scales the chimney at a bound.

      Five small stockings hang below;
      Five small stockings in a row.
      From his pocket blithe St. Nick
      Fills the waiting stockings quick;
      Some with sweetmeats, some with toys,
      Gifts for girls, and gifts for boys,
      Mounts the chimney like a bird,
      And the bells are once more heard.

      Santa Claus! Good Christmas saint,
      In whose heart no selfish taint
      Findeth place, some homes there be
      Where no stockings wait for thee,
      Homes where sad young faces wear
      Painful marks of Want and Care,
      And the Christmas morning brings
      No fair hope of better things.

      Can you not some crumbs bestow
      On these Children steeped in woe;
      Steal a single look of care
      Which their sad young faces wear;
      From your overflowing store
      Give to them whose hearts are sore?
      No sad eyes should greet the morn
      When the infant Christ was born.
"St. Nicholas" is reprinted from Grand'ther Baldwin's Thanksgiving. Horatio Alger. Boston: Loring, 1875.




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