Twas the Write Before Christmas

My literary version of Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”:

Twas 12 days before Christmas, and all through the nook
Few things are more stirring than reading a book
The novels are stacked by the chimney with care
To read or reread, like the stellar Jane Eyre
The children are nestled all snug in their beds
Too young for Dostoyevsky to mess with their heads
My wife at her desk and the cat in my lap
To read George Eliot beats taking a nap

Then outside the window there arose such a clatter
As if Jack Reacher had made all the bad guys scatter
To that window I raced (I did not totter)
As fast as Voldemort chased Harry Potter

The moon shone down on Outlander-ish snow
Evoking ghostly visions of Edgar A. Poe

When what to my wondering eyes’ insistence
Appeared Ruth the librarian and eight assistants
Ruth read Tolstoy’s novels so lively and quick
I knew in a moment she wasn’t St. Nick
Her book faves came faster than Zadie Smith quips
She laughed and she shouted and said with her lips:

“Now, Hobbit! Now, Huck Finn! Now, Rob Roy and Moby!
On, Zora! On, Liane! On, Jhumpa and Toni!
To the top of to-read lists! Best-seller lists, too!
Whether dead or alive, they belong in your queue!”

The wind took book pages and made them fly
Up into the air: The Sheltering Sky
On top of the house the library team rose
Their cart full of fiction: Remarque-able prose

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
“Colette’s Claudine at School is such a fun goof”
As I drew in my head, and spun all around,
Down the chimney plunged Ruth, not Ezra Pound
Sue Grafton mysteries that had come in the mail
Stephen King novels streaked with ashes and hail
Even more books that Ruth had flung on her back
Including The Scarlet Letter in “A” big Nat-pack

Those books, how they twinkled! The titles so many!
Atwood and Baldwin and Louise (last name Penny)
Marquez magic realism and valet Jeeves
And Lily Bart in Mirth — any reader grieves

Ruth knows William Faulkner put a pipe in his mouth
And To Kill a Mockingbird is set in the South
And Winnie the Pooh has a little round belly
And Don Quixote “lived” before Mary Shelley
And Thomas Hardy was hardly a jolly old elf
And Of Human Bondage was based on Maugham himself

But don’t read Agatha Christie prior to bed
To avoid waking up feeling nothing but dread

Ruth, as The Pathfinder, decides on a path
Fills stockings with novels, like The Grapes of Wrath
She then mutters Vonnegut’s phrase “So it goes”
And back up the chimney the librarian rose
She sprang again on the cart, and gave a whistle
And away that crew flew like a sci-fi missile

But I heard Ruth exclaim, before she soared out of sight
The Great Gatsby is better than Tender Is the Nightโ€

Apologies for omitting many authors (and novels by those authors) Iโ€™ve read. I ran out of Clement Clarke Moore poem lines to change.ย ๐Ÿ™‚ Among those I wish I could have included: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Louisa May Alcott, Isabel Allende, Isaac Asimov, Jane Austen, Fredrik Backman, Honore de Balzac, Ray Bradbury, Rita Mae Brown, Fanny Burney, Octavia Butler, Willa Cather, Kate Chopin, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, Alexandre Dumas, Ralph Ellison, Buchi Emecheta, Louise Erdrich, Henry Fielding, Jack Finney, Fannie Flagg, Jonathan Franzen, Lisa Genova, Nikolai Gogol, John Grisham, Ernest Hemingway, Hermann Hesse, James Hilton, Khaled Hosseini, Victor Hugo, Aldous Huxley, John Irving, Shirley Jackson, Henry James, James Joyce, Barbara Kingsolver, Stieg Larsson, D.H. Lawrence, Sinclair Lewis, Jack London, Daphne du Maurier, Cormac McCarthy, Carson McCullers, James Michener, L.M. Montgomery, Elsa Morante, Walter Mosley, Haruki Murakami, George Orwell, Kate Quinn, Rosamunde Pilcher, Alexander Pushkin, Anne Rice, Philip Roth, Arundhati Roy, Richard Russo, Dorothy Sayers, Lionel Shriver, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Martin Cruz Smith, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Rabindranath Tagore, Amy Tan, Donna Tartt, Angie Thomas, Anne Tyler, Jules Verne, Alice Walker, H.G. Wells, Virginia Woolf, Herman Wouk, Richard Wright, Emile Zola, etc., etc.!

My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.

In addition to this weekly blog, I write the 2003-started/award-winning โ€œMontclairvoyantโ€ topical-humor column for The latest piece — about such topics as my town’s delay in reopening schools amid the COVID resurgence — is here.

77 thoughts on “Twas the Write Before Christmas

  1. Pingback: Dave Astorโ€™s โ€˜Twas the Write Before Christmas – On The Road Book Club

  2. Christmas is not just a time for festivity and merry making. It is more than that. It is a time for the contemplation of eternal things. The Christmas spirit is a spirit of giving and forgiving.โ€ ~ J. C. Penney

    Have a wonderful Christmas and joyous days ahead with warm laughter. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dave…being bookless for a while suddenly I have two books back to back..
    As I`ve mentioned before, John Grisham’s A Time for Mercy , a great book and page filler, has read only about 100 pages.
    Then yesterday got The Sentinel by Lee Child / Andrew Child. ย , hoping Mr. Lee was writing it…
    Set it aside for now and finish the Grisham book full of heart and kindness that the World needs now. ย 

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is a very nice poem. Definitely an admiration to those in fiction. Also liked the reference of Ezra Pound, and appears you like some poetry as well. That’s a good thing as I see it. I will say that you are definitely very knowledgeable in that of fiction. I don’t have a lot of fiction under my belt as my focus had been on poetry. You’ll have to send the piece to some literary journals. Backtracking a bit, I have now read Oil by Upton Sinclair. Very nice read. However, the ending wasn’t as riveting, except for the fact that Ruth commits suicide in an oil well. That comes into play as to the death of her brother Paul, as to his connections with a communist angle, and that of unions in regards to big oil companies. So, in essence, it’s a fitting end as to ruth’s suicide. Hopefully, you haven’t forgotten the names in the book.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you the kind words, Don! I read some poetry here and there, but don’t focus on that genre anywhere near as much as you do. Mostly novels for me, with the occasional short-story collection.

      Upton Sinclair was one of many authors I could have referenced in the poem if I had more lines to change. ๐Ÿ™‚ I plucked the name of Ruth out of thin air for my poem, not thinking of the Ruth in “Oil.” Great that you read that novel!

      There are definitely some memorable novels that don’t have quite as compelling an ending as one would like. “The House of the Seven Gables” is among the other ones with that flaw.


  5. As you may remember, I enjoy making up fake books and titles. Hope you get a laugh, maybe two!

    Fictitious farm fiction:
    “Rooster: A Life”, by Randy Peckinpah
    “Barnyard Romance” by Rube Metcalf

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was tempted to write a poem emulating yours, featuring authors I’d lately read, but got stuck finding a rhyme for ‘Krzhizhanovsky’.

    Kudos to you on the occasion of your holiday poem!

    (Should I already know who “Ruth the librarian” is? Apologies to Ruth, and you, if so.)

    Still, I’d hate leave you with no poem, so:

    There is no ‘I’ in team,
    Though you can make a ‘me’
    There is no ‘I’ in beer
    Though there is beer in me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “…got stuck finding a rhyme for Krzhizhanovsky” — hilarious, jhNY! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Ruth is totally made up. I know/I know of no librarian by that name. Was just looking for a one-syllable name, and “Ruth” struck me for some reason.

      Love the poem! SO clever.


  7. Hilarious and brilliant, Dave! Quite a feat! How delightful for book lovers to read aloud. I also look forward to Rebecca’s recitation. My favorite line was: …The Scarlet Letter in โ€œAโ€ big Nat-pack…Ruth can play my Santa Claus any day ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Dave – you really have the sharpest wit and the best choice of books. I want Ruth as my librarian. I love when serendipity stops by – I have been researching Tโ€™was the Night before Christmasโ€ these past couple of weeks. Clement Clarke Moore would be very proud of your iteration. You have taken us through the centuries of writers, from Edgar A. Poe to Collette, from fantasy to mystery, to our dear Winnie the Pooh and his little round belly. By the way, in my guided meditation this morning, this is the quote that came at the last (and you know how I love quotes) โ€œNot everything thatโ€™s faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed that is not faced.โ€ James Baldwin. And serendipity comes again. Thank you so much for your marvelous poem. I would love to recite it!!! As we enter a new year of masks and vaccine news, I am grateful to the writers who give us courage to face the challenges ahead.

    Liked by 7 people

  9. Good evening Dave, I am absolutely impressed by your creativitiy and I really enjoyed your Christmas poem:) I must, however, admit that I prefered “Tender is the night” to “The great Gatsby”! In Shantaram by Gregory David Robert I have just read: We have a saying in Persian- Sometimes the lion must roar, just to remind the horse of his fear:” I hope this sentence also twinkles a little bit. ๐Ÿ™‚ Many thanks and best regards Martina

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Martina! So glad you enjoyed the poem!

      I also liked โ€œTender Is the Nightโ€ โ€” a more emotional, sprawling novel than โ€œThe Great Gatsby.โ€ But the โ€œcolder” and more โ€œclinicalโ€ (in a way) โ€œGatsbyโ€ seems to me to be one of the most perfectly written novels ever, while โ€œTenderโ€ is somewhat uneven. Just my opinionโ€ฆ ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thatโ€™s a terrific sentence from โ€œShantaramโ€! It definitely “twinkles”! (Poor horses. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ )

      Liked by 4 people

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