Friday, December 5, 2008

Poetry Friday

Today is the eve of St Nicholas Day. My kids love St Nicholas Day; they love putting their shoes out on the front porch before they go to bed, stuffing them first with hay and carrots; they love reading the stories about St Nicholas and his oft times miraculous acts of kindness; they love perusing this site for all the art possibilities it offers; but most of all they love how St Nicholas Day heralds the beginning of the Christmas season in earnest.

Today I was poking around the internet in the hopes that someone had written a poem about St Nicolas, but all I found in those brief few minutes were some slightly sugary, vaguely sappy tributes, which I didn't want. And then I found this. This is what I wanted:

Will The Real St. Nicholas Please Stand Up?
—And Indeed He Did

by Ogden Nash

Once there was a saint called St. Nicholas of Myra,
And his reputation for veracity was better than that of
Ananias and Sapphira,
So when he recently called upon me with his complaint,
Well, I knew I was listening to a truthful saint.
He was also an angry saint, he was spoiling for a rhubarb
or a scrimmage;
He was indignant over the vulgarization of his public image.
He said he hardly dared step out of Heaven for very shame
Because some obese buffoon known as Santa Claus had
mis-appropriated his good name.
He said wherever he might go
He was confronted by this Santa Claus or one of a
thousand facsimiles bellowing Ho! Ho! Ho!
None of whom had any decency or pride
Because they wore their red flannels outside.
He said if people wanted a Santa Claus that was all right
with him,
He just didn't want them to confuse Santa Claus with St. Nicholas,
which was like confusing Walt Disney with the Brothers Grimm,
Because he believed in spare the rod and spoil the child,
and let reward be contingent on good conduct previous,
Whereas Santa Claus was of the permissive school and
showered his gifts indiscriminately, even upon
the most unregenerately mischievious.
Anybody misled by the similarity of the two names
was not a homo sapiens but a most insapiens homo,
Just as likely to confuse Lindbergh with Strindberg or
Pericles with Perry Como,
Yes, they would find a hundred ways to be vague in,
Mixing up Yankee-doodle with Der Dudelsackpfeiffer and
Eugene O'Neill with Eugene Onegin.
He said this was a humiliation he had been forced to endure
Mostly thanks to one Clement Clarke Moore.

(The rest of the poem can be found here)

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Mommy's Favourite Children's Books. Stroll on over for many many other offerings!


Kelly Fineman said...

He just didn't want them to confuse Santa Claus with St. Nicholas,
which was like confusing Walt Disney with the Brothers Grimm

So true. But wasn't it Black Pete that brought the coal and switches?

sheila said...

I don't know about the coal, but he does carry a big stick and smokes on Bad Children. Don't know if he walks softly...

It's a bit of a serious poem, coming from Nash, don't you think?