This week, let’s have a look at language using alternative titles for
time-honored Christmas and other seasonal songs. This is just for fun—feel free to copy, paste, and print to enjoy with family members and
friends during your holiday celebrations. The answers are posted below after a poetry prompt for this week (but
don’t peek until you’ve tried to name all the songs)!
Can You Name These Christmas
Approach, Everyone Who Is Steadfast (or, Ah, Loyal Followers Advance)
Off in a Feeder
3. Hey, Minuscule Urban Area of Southwest Jerusalem
the Humanoid Solid Precipitation Sculpture
You Auscultate As I?
Visualization of Matriarch Smooching Red-Suited, Sleigh-Driving Guy
Grant Relaxation to You Jolly Fellows
Beings from the Areas of Magnificence
at 2400 Hours in Cloudless Weather
Bantam Youthful Male Percussionist
Christmas is on the Way to the Borough
14. Ecstasy Toward the Planet
Dozen Intervals between Sunrise and Sunset Related to the 25th Day of the 12th
a Monarchical Trio Who Originated Near the Ascent of Apollo
Fantasizing Concerning a Blanched Yuletide
the Foretelling Spirits Harmonize
Sum of My Yuletide Yearnings is Two Anterior Incisors
Regarding the Identity of Descendant
Quadruped with the Vermilion Proboscis
Precipitation Command or Allow Crystalline Formations to Descend
Elderly Saint who was Bishop of Myra
This Juncture Arrives the Jolly Old Elf.
Appearance of Christ’s Natal Day is Commencing
30. Ah, Drawing Close Permit Us to Worship Him
This Week's Prompt: Try Writing a Holiday Poem
about a holiday from your past (dig deeply into family memories).
a poem in which you compare winter holidays of the past, present, and/or future.
about seasonal ghosts that haunt you.
about people from your past who are no longer with you and how that impacts
your present holiday season; or, write about one special person with whom you
always associate the winter holidays.
about aspects of winter holiday traditions that remain part of your annual
about the faith and/or cultural aspects of your winter holidays.
about one unforgettable winter holiday.
about holiday food treats and how they sweeten your memories.
about a holiday song that replays in your mind because of its associations (or,
write your own words to a Christmas carol or other winter holiday song). 10. Write a poem based on an old Christmas,
Hanukkah, or other winter holiday photograph.
Write about a historical holiday-time event.
Write about a winter holiday yet to come. You might consider a fantasy poem
with a futuristic sensibility.
Christmas Carol Quiz Answers
1. Oh, Come All Ye Faithful
2. Away in A Manger
3. Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem
4. Frosty the Snowman
5. Do You Hear What I Hear?
6. Silver Bells
7. Oh, Holy Night
8. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
9. God Rest You Merry Gentlemen
10. Angels from the Realms of Glory
11. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
12. The Little Drummer Boy
13. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
14. Joy to the World
15. The Twelve Days of Christmas
16. We Three Kings of Orient Are
17. I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas
18. The First Noel
19. Silent Night
20. Hark, the Herald Angels Sing
21. Deck the Halls
22. All I Want for Christmas is My Two
23. What Child is This?
24. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
25. Let it Snow
26. Jolly Old St. Nicholas
27. Jingle Bells
28. Here Comes Santa Claus
29. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
30. Oh, Come let Us Adore Him
To All My Blog Readers
I wish all my blog readers happy and healthy holidays and the best blessings of this festive
season. May the the coming year bring you good health, much happiness, and all the things that you love! I’ll resume posting on Saturday, January 13, 2018! In the
meantime, celebrate the season!
This week, I decided to revisit (and embellish) a seasonal prompt from
December 11, 2010. The prompt deals with writing parodies of a well-known poem.
Parody is always fun—the imitation of another work, writer, or genre. In
poetry, parody is often about burlesquing serious verse for comic or satirical
effect. This week, the idea is to write parodies of Clement C. Moore’s famous
poem “The Night Before Christmas” (originally titled “A Visit from Saint
This poem has delighted both children and adults for many years—and
some very funny parodies have been written. These humorous riffs on the
Christmas classic are in many ways as entertaining as the original.
The original version of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” was anonymously published
shortly before Christmas in 1823. As the poem’s popularity grew, several
writers claimed to be its author, including Clement Clarke Moore, a classics
professor, writer, and friend of author Washington Irving. Written in anapestic
tetrameter (four feet of unstressed-unstressed-stressed), the poem’s rhythm and
rhyme have made it easy to memorize.
Three of four hand-written copies of the poem are housed in museums (including
the New York Historical Society Library). A private collector sold the fourth
copy in December 2006; this copy was written and signed by Clement Clarke
Moore and given as a gift to a friend in 1860. It was purchased for $280,000 by
an unnamed “chief executive officer of a media company.”
1. To begin, read Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas.”
2. Now sample some parodies of the poem. Google "Parodies of the Night before Christmas," and you'll find several online. Note how the parodies imitate
the style and form of the original but use different language and meaning to
alter the text.
3. 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
A (Person’s Name Here) Night before Christmas (This Version is about a
The Night Before _________________(Not Christmas, Anything You Wish)
4. When you’ve got an idea in mind, begin
writing. You should, of course, model your work after 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 fun to
1. 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.
2. Have fun with this!
3. As always, you’re invited to post your poems as comments (finished
or in draft form) for other blog readers to enjoy.
As the holiday season begins, and Christmas preparations gear up in my house, I find myself listening to (and singing in my less-than-harmonious voice) a number of favorite Christmas carols. I wondered what the most popular Christmas carol of all might be. A quick Google search led me to an article based on a Time Magazine study that revealed the following:
“The names Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber have largely vanished into the annals of Christmas tormentors, but their greatest triumph lives on. “Silent Night,” which Mohr wrote the lyrics for (in German) in 1816 and Gruber put to music two years later, is the most recorded Christmas song in the modern era of the holiday’s substantial oeuvre.”
“To determine this fact, TIME crawled the records at the U.S. Copyright Office, which offers digitized registrations going back to 1978, and collected data on every Christmas album recorded since that time. “Silent Night,” it turns out, is not merely the most popular carol; with 733 copyrighted recordings since 1978, it is nearly twice as dominant as “Joy to the World,” a distant second with 391 records to its name.”
Whether your observation of the season is secular or religious, and regardless of your religious affiliation, this week, the challenge is to use the title (that’s right, just the title) of the song “Silent Night” as a springboard for something that may well be quite different from the song. Think about a “silent night” (any silent night) that you’ve experienced. This may be a seasonal or Christmas experience or a “silent night” experience from any time of year.
1. Free write for a while on silence, nighttime, or any specific experience you’ve had at night (mystical, beautiful, frightening, comforting). Some possibilities may include a family time, a particular holiday celebration, a nighttime walk in the woods or on a city street, a time alone, a time when words failed you, or a time when you were in deep reflection.
2. After free writing for a while, take a short break and then go back and read what you wrote. Is there anything there that you might work into a poem? Copy some images and ideas that you think might fit.
3. Consider prose, narrative, and lyric forms.
4. Write your poem with the specific intention of creating a mood or atmosphere. Mood is the major feeling or atmosphere of a piece of poetry, and can be an important device is establishing emotional communication between you and your readers. Remember that your topic is a “silent night.”
5. Don’t be afraid to create an air of mystery. Along that line, don’t tell it all—leave room for your readers to enter your poem. Give your readers something to reflect upon. Don’t close the “door” on your poem—leave it slightly ajar.
1. The images you create will impact the mood of your poem. If you create somber images, the mood of your poem will darken and perhaps become ominous. If you create light, happy images, your poem’s mood will move into a positive, uplifting direction. Know what mood you want to create before writing anything.
2. Remember that setting contributes to mood and atmosphere, and establish a setting for your poem accordingly. (Note that setting is the physical location in any literary work. It provides a background that supports the content.)
3. Use language to your poem’s advantage. That is, choose words and phrases that convey the mood or tone of a “silent night.”
4. Be generous with caesuras (pauses). Allow the unspoken silences of your poem to speak to your readers. You can create pauses with dashes, parentheses, spacing, and line breaks.
5. There should be nothing superfluous in your poem: no extra words, no extra syllables. Avoid explanations of what you’ve written in your poem: trust your images.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening By Robert Frost
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.
Evening Solace By Charlotte Brontë
The human heart has hidden treasures,
In secret kept, in silence sealed;—
The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,
If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is
thank you, it will be enough.
Here in the U.S.,
Thanksgiving will be celebrated this coming week on Thursday, November
23rd. This year our Thanksgiving coincides with Japan’s Kinrō Kansha no Hi, a national public
holiday celebrated every year on November 23. Derived from ancient harvest
festival rituals named Niinamesai,
its modern meaning is more a celebration of hard work and community
involvement, translated as Labor
Thanksgiving Day. Other countries that celebrate Thanksgiving include
Germany (first Sunday of October, essentially a harvest festival that offers
thanks for a good year and good fortune) and Canada (Parliament made it a
national holiday in 1879, declaring in 1957 that the holiday would be observed
yearly, "A Day of General Thanksgiving to
Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed—to be
observed on the 2nd Monday in October"). Grenada, Liberia, and The
Netherlands also hold Thanksgiving celebrations.
Thanksgiving in the United
States has a long history beginning in 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and
Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is considered the first
Thanksgiving celebration. For over 200 years, days of thanksgiving were
celebrated by individual colonies and states. In 1827, magazine editor Sarah
Josepha Hale began a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday.
Finally, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln set the last Thursday in November
as the official day for a national Thanksgiving observance. In 1939, President
Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week, and in 1941 Roosevelt signed
a bill that designated the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
Whether we set aside a day
for national thanksgiving or make being truly grateful a part of our everyday
lives, it’s important to remember that being grateful for what we have now and
have had in the past can make us feel better about ourselves, our lives, and
Cicero said, “Gratitude
is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” There
are times in our lives when we may feel more Grinch than grateful, especially
when the stresses of every day living gather momentum and all but overwhelm us.
However, acknowledging and expressing our gratitude can have a beneficial
effect on our lives, relationships, and work.
What are you grateful for? This week let’s write
about a specific thing for which we’re grateful.A French proverb tells us,
“Gratitude is the heart’s memory.” Our first step in writing this week will be
to remember—to look into our memories and to identify a single thing for which
we’re especially grateful.
1. Make a list of things for which you’re thankful.
Think in terms of people, health, work—all the things that are good in your
2. Choose one item from the list.
3. Free write about the item you chose.
4. Look at your free write and select images and
details for your poem.
5. Draft your poem.
1. Your poem may be stichic
(one stanza with no line breaks), it may be a formal poem, a prose poem, or
your poem may take the form of prayer or a letter.
2. As you write, think about
the reasons for your gratitude and show (without telling) what those feelings
3. Dig deeply to reach
beyond the specifics of your personal experience to the underlying universal
subject with which your readers will identify. In other words, in this poem,
move toward something larger than your personal experience.
4. You might address or
dedicate your poem to a person for whom you're thankful.
5. Another possibility is to
approach the flip side and write about a challenging time (or a time of
adversity) that somehow led you to feelings of gratefulness (my mom used to say
that good always comes from bad).
In the United States, November is National Native
American Heritage Month, with that in mind (and considering the tradition of
our first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims and Indians), this example is a poem
translated from a traditional Iroquois prayer.
We who are here present thank the Great Spirit that we
are here to praise Him. We thank Him that He has created men and women, and ordered that these beings
shall always be living to multiply the earth. We thank Him for making the earth and giving these beings its products to live
on. We thank Him for the water that comes out of the earth and runs for our lands. We thank Him for all the animals on the earth. We thank Him for certain timbers that grow and have fluids coming from them for
us all. We thank Him for the branches of the trees that grow shadows for our shelter. We thank Him for the beings that come from the west, the thunder and lightning
that water the earth.
We thank Him for the light which we call our oldest brother, the sun that works
for our good.
Often, when I offer tips for writing poems, I
include one of more of the following items that I feel are important to
remember. I used to do a "High Five," but I've
added to that list. There are, of course, many other “tips” for writing poetry,
but observing these will help move your poems toward final versions that shine.
1. Avoid the passive voice.
2. Eliminate “ing” endings wherever you can.
3. Limit use of adjectives.
4. Avoid prepositional phrases when you can.
5. Get rid of articles (a, an, the) as much as possible.
6. Create images that are unique and memorable.
7. Avoid overstatement and too many details—show, don’t
8. Stay away from clichés, abstractions, and sentimentality.
9. Create layers of meaning—point toward something bigger
than the body of the poem.
10. Work on form and format (syntax, line breaks, and
This week’s challenge is to look
through some already-written poems (that you consider “finished”) and to “checklist”
it using the ten tips above.
1. Take a look at a poem you’ve
already written and apply the preceding items as a checklist for editing.
2. Go through your poem one item
at a time and see if there are changes you can make.
3. After you’ve finished, compare
your original version and the newly edited one. Is the edited version stronger
than the original?
Dressing up in costumes (called ”fancy dress” in
England) has a long history. Masked balls and other fancy dress occasions were
popular long before the custom of wearing costumes on Halloween came into
popular practice. Halloween costumes as we know them today were first recorded
as late as 1895 in Scotland with little evidence of the practice in England,
Ireland, or the US before 1900. Early Halloween costumes took their character
from Halloween’s pagan and Gothic sensibilities and were worn mainly by
children. These costumes were made at home from found materials, but by the
1930s, several companies began to manufacture Halloween costumes for sale in
stores, and trick or treating became popular. Today, Halloween costumes are worn by children and adults, all of whom enjoy the fun of becoming something or someone other than who they really are.
From the time I was little, I enjoyed Halloween costumes for the pure
fun of them but also because, in costume, I was able to step out of myself and
into another personality.
Although, traditionally, Halloween
costumes are monsters, vampires, zombies, and other ghoulish creatures, many
more are based on characters and figures from history, movies, and everyday
life. In a very real sense, costumes are communication devices—they say something about the people who wear them.
1. Write a poem about a costume “experience” that youhad as a child or as an adult.
2. Write a poem about a costume that you’d love to wear. What’s the “character”
you’d like to “become” on Halloween night? Why and how would a particular
costume take you out of yourself and into a new personality?
3. Write a poem about the costume you would never want to wear and why.
4. Write a poem in which you “create” a bizarre costume that makes no
reasonable sense—a fantasy costume. You might try a prose poem for this one
(and be sure to include a little surreal imagery).
5. Write a poem about the animal you’d like to dress up as and “become”
on Halloween night.
6. Write a poem about a historical person whom you’d like to “become”
7. Write a poem about a costume party that you attended.
8. If you were going to dress up as a famous poet, which poet would you
choose? In your poem, tell why you would choose that poet and describe your
costume. For example, if you were to dress up as William Carlos Williams, your
costume would include such things as latex gloves, a white lab coat, a
stethoscope, eyeglasses, and brushed-back hair. For William Shakespeare, you’d
need an Elizabethan-style outfit, beard, etc.
1. Remember as you write to let your poem take you where it wants to go,
and to be aware of meanings other than the obvious.
2. Link the end of the poem to the beginning but not
overtly—and don’t over-write.
the last line, then go back and find the last line hidden in what you’ve
(minimal) repetition from another part of the poem—sometimes this can work very
one-syllable words than multi-syllable words in your last couple of lines
(think in terms of strong verbs and no superfluous language).