santa claus’s ride

by Frederick H. Pilch

Image: http://maureentillman.blogspot.com/2012/12/merry-christmas-and-happy-holidays.html
Image: Sanctuaries, Dreams, and Shadows

Stout Santa Claus cheerily cracks his whip
As he skims away o’er the hidden heather,
Fur-clad to his furthest finger tip,
He gleefully laughs at the Winter weather,
Though the wind comes cold
From the mountains bold
Like a pittance doled with a miser’s pity,
And the crusted snow
Spreads an icy glow
O’er the valley low and the sleeping city;
Yet he sings a song as he spins along
While his jingling bells gaily tinkle together,
And this is the strain of his rude refrain
Which he shouts amain in the teeth of the weather,
“Away and away, ere the dawn of day
We have visits to make many miles away,
And calls where we’ve never sent warning.
‘Tis a long year and drear since a frolic we’ve had,
So the poor and the sad shall be merry and glad
In the light of the Christmas morning.”

He rushes along over field and fen
While the snow-dust rises in shining sparkles.
And flits like a flash through glade and glen
And adown the pass where the forest darkles.
Though the country rings
With the songs he sings,
Yet Old Echo’s wings ever lag behind him,–
Like the sun’s lost star
All his lost words are
Ever following far, yet they never find him,
For he cleaves the night with the speed of light
With his tinkling bells and mellifluous laughter;
And he slaps his knee in a gush of glee
As these phrases free hasten briskly after,
“Then away like a wink, ere the moon shall sink,
We must lighten our load where the little ones think
They will watch to catch Santa Claus napping;
But my messengers’ pinions will pause as they fly,
And close up every eye, be it sleepy or spry,
Then I’ll rustle in without rapping.”

With a shout he rapidly hurries past
Where the mill-wheel rests ‘neath its icy mounting,
And the mill-wife dreams of times long past
When howling wolves were past killing or counting;
Then the silent charm
Of the quiet farm
Breaks with strange alarm at the apparition,
And the watch-dogs bay
Many miles away
As along the way sweeps the vocal vision,
And the lonely cot in the woodland lot
Seems to rattle and ring with the ghostly greeting,
While the woodman who hears to himself mutters fears
That the noises are cheers from the witches’ wild meeting,
Shouting– “Up and away, never pause to play,
We’ve so many to see ere the coming of day
With our burdens of pleasure and treasure,–
For the many we’ve goods, and for some we have gold,
And for young and for old we’ve ‘the story of old’
How He loved us all beyond measure.”

As the old chap whirls, like a wizard weird,
Over frozen fells and through leafless thickets,
The icy spears on his bushy beard
Project, when he laughs, like a row of pickets;
Soon he rumbles down
From the hill-tops crown
To the sleepy town, and comes up all standing
By a cosy cot
In a shady spot
‘Mid a meadow lot near the river landing,
Then he slings a pack on his bulky back
And springs to the roof like a frost-spangled fairy,
And descends from view down the chimney flue
With a footing true and a vision wary.
And he fills the hose till they tear at the toes,
And kisses the baby farewell ere he goes
With a bound like a ball to the shingles,
Then he quickly returns to his journey again
While he rattles amain his own song and refrain,
And he grins with delight till he tingles.

His gallant team speedily rushes about,–
And they need but a word to fly fast, or walk slowly;
Many mansions he scales on his serpentine route,
But he oftenest enters the rooms of the lowly.
For he loves to go
Where the embers glow
On a numerous row of stockings in sizes,
And his bosom swells–
As his fancy tells
All the joy that dwells in his pack of prizes:–
And the rosy flush of the morning’s blush
Just appears o’er the hills as his last visit’s over,
Then he whisks away with his empty sleigh
While a watchman astray gazes after the rover;
As his lashes crack on his homeward track,
He leaves many behind who will welcome him back,
For he numbers his lovers by legions.
And he’ll hasten here with his cargo of cheer
When he wakens once more, after sleeping a year,
In his home in the Polar Regions.

This poem comes from Frederick Pilch’s volume of Homespun Verses, printed in Newark in 1882.

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