Monday, December 18, 2006

Clement Clarke Moore

As I was searching and compiling all the information about Clement Clarke Moore, I ran across this very complete and articulate article and decided to throw away my scribbled notes and post this article written by Jeff Westover.

Clement Clarke Moore: Father, Patriot and Poet
By Jeff Westover

Clement Clarke Moore was one of New York's wealthiest men. And clearly, one of it's most highly educated.
He was born in 1779 to Benjamin Moore, a patriot and an Episcopalian minister. His mother was Charity Clarke, a feisty and ardent supporter of the American cause. He inherited from her side of the family a good portion of land that would someday become the Chelsea District in New York City.
For young Clement C. Moore, his life's work did not lay in the ministry as it did his father. He had a well developed love of language and pursued the learning of ancient dialects of Hebrew, Greek and German. But he was a man of profound attachment to family, home and church. He donated property and for a time assumed the entire debt of Saint Peter's Church.
He married a woman named Catherine Elizabeth and was shamelessly devoted to her. While courting her, Moore wrote to his future mother-in-law that he would carve her name into trees. Together, they had nine children. When her life unexpectedly was taken while she was yet 30 years old, he was devastated. But he assumed her duties and enjoyed fond relationships with his children and grandchildren.
It is not hard to imagine then what transpired that snowy Christmas Eve in 1822. Catherine sent her husband out into the elements to get one more turkey, which she and the children were preparing as a donation to the poor. Their home, with six children at the time, was one filled with love and warmth and tradition.
Clement ventured into town, his coachman being a jolly, round fellow with a long white beard and a most cheerful disposition. After he purchased the needed turkey from Jefferson's Market, with sleigh bells merrily ringing in his ears as the snow fell that Christmas Eve day, he composed a short poem.
Moore returned home with the turkey and the family traditions of Christmas took hold. He added to them by delighting his young children that night by the fire with the first reading of "The Night Before Christmas", the poem he had composed that very afternoon. Then, he tucked his handwritten copy of his creation away and gave it no further thought.
But his poem had made a powerful impression upon his children, who some months later shared it with a visiting family friend. This same friend, not knowing that Moore's sole intent was to keep the poem private, sent it to the Troy Sentinel, where it was published anonymously just before Christmas in 1823.
The poem quickly became beloved of the public and spread Moore's name around the globe. It shaped the imagination of who Santa Claus is and what he looks like. Moore's work provided inspiration for Thomas Nast, an illustrator of political cartoons who gained notoriety as well for his early wood engravings of Christmas scenes published in Harper's Weekly.
By 1844, Moore included A Visit from Saint Nicholas in a published collection of his poetic writings. He was a giant in his community, a trustee of Columbia University, well known in academia for his scholarship in ancient languages and his real estate dealings shaped modern-day Manhatten. But the world knows him and holds him dear for the "trifle", as he called it, that he penned for his children on a chilly sleigh ride back home from the market on Christmas Eve of 1822.

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'Twas The Night Before Christmas

'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 Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap.

When 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
gave the lustre of midday 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 courses 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, Donner 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 courses 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 on 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 bowl full 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! '

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

An Old Man's Winter Night

This is another Robert Frost Poem that I enjoy during the winter time.
Somehow every time I read this poem I see something in it I haven't seen before.
(The roar of trees and the cracking tree branches in the winter nights air sure seemed appropriate considering this month’s ice storm.)
What does this poem say to you?

An Old Man's Winter Night

All out of doors looked darkly in at him
Through the thin frost, almost in separate stars,
That gathers on the pane in empty rooms.
What kept his eyes from giving back the gaze
Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand.
What kept him from remembering what it was
That brought him to that creaking room was age.
He stood with barrels round him -- at a loss.
And having scared the cellar under him
In clomping there, he scared it once again
In clomping off; -- and scared the outer night,
Which has its sounds, familiar, like the roar
Of trees and crack of branches, common things,
But nothing so like beating on a box.
A light he was to no one but himself
Where now he sat, concerned with he knew what,
A quiet light, and then not even that.
He consigned to the moon, such as she was,
So late-arising, to the broken moon
As better than the sun in any case
For such a charge, his snow upon the roof,
His icicles along the wall to keep;
And slept. The log that shifted with a jolt
Once in the stove, disturbed him and he shifted,
And eased his heavy breathing, but still slept.
One aged man -- one man -- can't keep a house,
A farm, a countryside, or if he can,
It's thus he does it of a winter night.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

'Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.'

Robert Lee Frost

Robert Lee Frost was born March 26, 1874 in San Francisco to Isabelle Moodie and William Prescott Frost, Jr.
He died January 29, 1963 in Boston and is buried the Old Bennington Cemetery, in Bennington, Vermont.

Robert Frost is one of my favorite poets and story tellers because of his great love and facination with nature and the natural world around him.

He often drew his inspiration from the rural life in New England and nature, using this setting to explore complex social and philosophical themes.
He is a popular and often-quoted poet.
Robert Frost was highly honored during his lifetime, receiving four Pulitzer Prizes.

*Frost lived in California until he was twelve years old. After the death of his father, he moved with his mother and sister to eastern Massachusetts, near his paternal grandparents. His mother joined the Swedenborgian church and had him baptized in it, but he left it as an adult. He grew up as a city boy and published his first poem in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He attended Dartmouth College in 1892, for just less than a semester, and while there he joined the fraternity, Theta Delta Chi. He went back home to teach and work at various jobs including factory work and newspaper delivery.

In 1894 he sold his first poem, "My Butterfly", to The New York Independent for fifteen dollars. Proud of this accomplishment, he asked Elinor Miriam White to marry him. They had graduated co-valedictorians from their high-school and had remained in contact with one another. She refused, wanting to finish school before they married. Frost was sure that there was another man and went on an excursion to the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia. He came back later that year and asked Elinor again; she accepted, and they were married in December 1895.

They taught school together until 1897. Frost then entered Harvard University for two years. He did well, but felt he had to return home due to his health and because his wife was expecting a second child. His grandfather purchased a farm in Derry, New Hampshire for the young couple. He stayed there for nine years and wrote many of the poems that would make up his first works. His attempt at poultry farming was not successful, and he was forced to take another job at Pinkerton Academy, a secondary school, from 1906 to 1911. From 1911 to 1912, Robert Frost lived in Plymouth, New Hampshire and taught at the New Hampshire Normal School (now Plymouth State University).

In 1912, Frost sailed with his family to Glasgow, and later settled in Beaconsfield, outside London.

His first book of poetry, A Boy's Will, was published the next year. In England he made some crucial contacts including Edward Thomas (a member of the group known as the Dymock poets), T. E. Hulme, and Ezra Pound, who was the first American to write a (favorable) review of Frost's work. Frost wrote some of the best pieces of his work while living in England.

Frost returned to America in 1915, bought a farm in Franconia, New Hampshire and launched a career of writing, teaching and lecturing. From 1916 to 1938, he was an English professor at Amherst College. He encouraged his writing students to bring the sound of the human voice to their craft. Beginning in 1921, and for the next 42 years (with three exceptions), Frost spent his summers teaching at the Bread Loaf School of English of Middlebury College in Ripton, Vermont. Middlebury College still owns and maintains Robert Frost's Farm as a National Historic Site near the Bread Loaf campus.

Harvard's 1965 alumni directory indicates his having received an honorary degree there; Frost also received honorary degrees from Bates College, Oxford and Cambridge universities, and he was the first to receive two honorary degrees from Dartmouth College. During his lifetime, the Robert Frost Middle School in Fairfax, Virginia as well as the main library of Amherst College was named after him.

*(rest of the bio and the pictures taken from )