Saturday, December 11, 2010

Poetry Prompt #35 – Parody: The Night Before Christmas

Parody is the imitation of another work, writer, or genre. In poetry, parody is often about burlesquing serious verse for comic or satirical effect. This week, we're going to write parodies of Clement C. Moore's famous poem "The Night Before Christmas" (originally titled "A Visit from Saint Nicholas"). 

To begin, read Moore's "The Night Before Christmas."

Now sample some parodies of the poem. Note how the parodies imitate the style and form of the original but use different language and meaning to alter the text.

Next, think of the content you'd like your poem to contain. Theme? Idea? Think about the examples you read and consider other possibilities. Here are just a few:

The Night Before Christmas (from a Pet's Point of View)
A Mother's/Father's Night Before Christmas
A Poetry Reading the Night Before Christmas
A (Profession Here, Teacher's, Lawyer's, Poet's, Policeman's) Night Before Christmas
A (Person's Name Here) Night before Christmas (This Version is about a Particular Person)
The Night Before _________________(Not Christmas, Anything You Wish)

When you've got an idea in mind, begin writing. You should, of course, model your work after the the original while addressing a completely different subject matter. If the Moore poem is longer than you'd like your parody to be, simply write something shorter. Be sure to follow the rhythm and rhyme schemes of the original poem – that is, maintain the sense of music that Moore created. Allusions to Moore's poem are great to include.

Something that I've done over the years is to write "Night Before Christmas" poems for friends and family members. I print and frame them and give them as gifts – they're fun to write (especially humorous versions), a great way to make friends and family members smile, and an amusing way to share poetry.

Have fun with this! As always, you're invited to post your poems as comments (finished or in draft form) for other blog readers to enjoy.


  1. I'm having fun with this one! Great idea to write "Night before Christmas" poems for special people. Thanks!


  2. Many thanks to fellow blogger Diane Lockward for the info on LinkWithin.

    If any of you are bloggers and are interested, just click on the LinkWithin link at the end of my posts. It's an easy add-on and may increase your traffic.

  3. This is a great prompt, fun, and seasonal. I have a feeling people will need some time to write for this one.

    The LinkWithin is great. The thumbnails are inviting.

    You have so much on your blog for us to enjoy. Thanks!

  4. Adele! I've written three -- too long (and personal) to post here, but intended for gifts this Christmas. Ever so much fun. Thanks for the GREAT idea.

    Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)

  5. Here's a fun Star Trek parody from

    Twas a Star Trek Christmas

    'Twas the night before Christmas on the Enterprise-D,
    On a routine short hop to Starbase 03,
    With Data on duty in the command chair,
    At Warp 6, the Enterprise soon would be there.

    Just for something to do while the other crew slept,
    He scanned where historical records were kept --
    And with a blink of his eye and a cock of his head,
    "Intriguing! Tomorrow is Christmas!" he said.

    But no one was stirring, and he sought to find why,
    And so he buzzed Geordi, who awoke with a sigh:
    "Christmas? It's only an old holiday --
    Now just let me get back to sleep, okay?"

    "But is to wish Merry Christmas not human to do?"
    And so Data wished it -- to the whole ship and crew.
    Everyone on the Enterprise awoke from this clatter --
    Picard rushed to the bridge to see what was the matter.

    "What is the meaning of this noise, Mister Data?"
    "Sir, is it not Christmas--?" "We'll discuss it much later!"

    Just then Worf said, "Captain -- a Klingon Prey Bird!
    Its hull has been damaged -- it's uncloaking, sir."
    "On screen," said Picard, as the Klingon ship hailed:
    "Federation vessel, our Life Support systems have failed!

    A strange ship attacked us, inflicting the worst,
    (though naturally, of course, we'd fired on it first)."

    The Klingons beamed over, and the senior staff met,
    To try and determine the source of the threat.
    Said Picard, "Mister Data, an assignment for you:
    Give all of these Klingons something to do!
    They think it's the Romulans we should look for,
    Get them all off the bridge, before there's a war!"

    So Data departed, while the rest of the crew
    Wondered: Romulans? Ferengi? If not them, then who?

    Said Worf, "Sir -- disturbance on Holodeck Three!"
    The entire bridge crew ran down there to see.
    Roared Picard, "Mister Data, what the devil is this!!"
    "Sir, I have taught the Klingons how to celebrate Christmas."

    And so there they were -- on holodecks 3, 4 and 5
    With synthohol, singing and Rokeg Blood Pie!
    Soon the Big E was rocking with holiday cheer
    Friend,foe, and family came from both far and near.

    The Romulans showed up with some Romulan Ale,
    The Ferengi brought goodies for free -- not for sale!
    But a strange ship was coming, the captain was told,
    With one crew member only, and a huge cargo hold.

    Said the Klingons, "It's the strange ship that fought us -- attack!"
    Said Picard, "On Christmas? -- Mister Worf, just hold back."
    And then as the ship came into view,
    Onscreen came its captain -- none other than Q!

    He wore a white beard and a suit of deep red...
    "Joyeux Noel, mon captain," was what Santa Q said.
    "Tell those Klingons next time to not go so berserk.
    You need good defense systems in this line of work.
    Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be warping away...
    Did you think anyone else could do this job in one day?"

    "I'm sensing emotion," said Counselor Troi,
    "Peace in the galaxy, Good Will and Joy."
    And they stood on the bridge and watched Q take flight,

  6. And here's a "Computer Christmas" version:

    T'was the night before Christmas, and all through the shop,
    The computers were whirring; they never do stop.
    The power was on and the temperature right,
    In hopes that the input would feed back that night.

    The system was ready, the program was coded,
    And memory drums had been carefully loaded;
    While adding a Christmasy glow to the scene,
    The lights on the console, flashed red, white and green.

    When out in the hall there arose such a clatter,
    The programmer ran to see what was the matter.
    Away to the hallway he flew like a flash,
    Forgetting his key in his curious dash.
    He stood in the hallway and looked all about,
    When the door slammed behind him, and he was locked out.

    Then, in the computer room what should appear,
    But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer;
    And a little old man, who with scarcely a pause,
    Chuckled: "My name is Santa...the last name is Claus."

    The computer was startled, confused by the name,
    Then it buzzed as it heard the old fellow exclaim:
    "This is Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,
    And Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen."

    With all these odd names, it was puzzled anew;
    It hummed and it clanked, and a main circuit blew.
    It searched in its memory core, trying to "think";
    Then the multi-line printer went out on the blink.

    Unable to do its electronic job,
    It said in a voice that was almost a sob:
    "Your eyes - how they twinkle - your dimples so merry,
    Your cheeks so like roses, your nose like a cherry,

    Your smile - all these things, I've been programmed to know,
    And at data-recall, I am more than so-so;
    But your name and your address (computers can't lie),
    Are things that I just cannot identify.

    You've a jolly old face and a little round belly,
    That shakes when you laugh like a bowlful of jelly;
    My scanners can see you, but still I insist,
    Since you're not in my program, you cannot exist!"

    Old Santa just chuckled a merry "ho, ho",
    And sat down to type out a quick word or so.
    The keyboard clack-clattered, its sound sharp and clean,
    As Santa fed this "data" to the machine:

    "Kids everywhere know me; I come every year;
    The presents I bring add to everyone's cheer;
    But you won't get anything - that's plain to see;
    Too bad your programmers forgot about me."

    Then he faced the machine and said with a shrug,
    "Merry Christmas to All," as he pulled out its plug!
    (author unknown)

  7. Just found one by a member of the military, written in 1986.

    From the website intro:

    "This special poem was written by Marine Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt while he was stationed in Washington, D.C. in 1986. We need to take time everyday to be thankful to our military and the sacrifices they make to keep you safe. Please pass this powerful poem on to anyone you think could use a reminder about the hardships faced in the miltary and how thankful we should be!"

    Merry Christmas, My Friend
    by James M. Schmidt

    Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
    In a one bedroom house made of plaster & stone.
    I had come down the chimney, with presents to give
    and to see just who in this home did live

    As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
    no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
    No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand.
    On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.

    With medals and badges, awards of all kind,
    a sobering thought soon came to my mind.
    For this house was different, unlike any I'd seen.
    This was the home of a U.S. Marine.

    I'd heard stories about them, I had to see more,
    so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
    And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone,
    Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.

    He seemed so gentle, his face so serene,
    Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine.
    Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read?
    Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

    His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan.
    I soon understood, this was more than a man.
    For I realized the families that I saw that night,
    owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.

    Soon around the Nation, the children would play,
    And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
    They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year,
    because of Marines like this one lying here.

    I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone,
    on a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
    Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye.
    I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.

    He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
    "Santa, don't cry, this life is my choice
    I fight for freedom, I don't ask for more.
    My life is my God, my country, my Corps."

    With that he rolled over, drifted off into sleep,
    I couldn't control it, I continued to weep.
    I watched him for hours, so silent and still.
    I noticed he shivered from the cold night's chill.

    So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
    and covered this Marine from his toes to his head.
    Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold,
    with an eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold.

    And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
    and for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside.
    I didn't want to leave him so quiet in the night,
    this guardian of honor so willing to fight.

    But half asleep he rolled over, and in a voice clean and pure,
    said "Carry on, Santa, it's Christmas Day, all secure."
    One look at my watch and I knew he was right,
    Merry Christmas my friend, Semper Fi and goodnight.

  8. The URL for the poem by James Schmidt is

  9. It's really nice. I've seen lots of parody of A night before Christmas and most of them are truly hilarious, and some are inspiring. A night before Christmas is on of my favorite short Christmas poems. Thanks for the links of these parodies.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Sarah! I'm so glad you enjoyed this!