'Twas Eleven Days Before Christmas

The Sandy Hook shootings inspired Cameo Smith to write a poem based on "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement Clarke Moore. The first lines are:

'Twas eleven days before Christmas around 9:38,
When 20 beautiful children stormed through Heaven's gate.

That didn't sound right, so I looked up the original poem. It was anapestic tetrameter. The first lines are:

 
      -   -   /     - -     /    -     -   /    -    -    /

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro' the house

- - / - - / - - / - - /
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;


(High school English was good for something!)
If we scan Smith's poem, we get:

 
      -  - / -   -    - -     /    -  -  -    /     -  -  /

'Twas eleven days before Christmas around nine thirty eight,

- - - / - - / - - - - / - /
When twenty beautiful children stormed through Heaven's gate.


There are too many syllables. Another approach would be:

 
      -  -  /    - -     /   -    -  /     -  -  /

'Twas a week before Christmas at nine thirty eight,
- - / - - / - - / - - /
Twenty beautiful children stormed Heaven's bright gate.


A week isn't quite the right length of time, but it sounds better. So, I decided to take a crack at the whole poem:

'Twas a week before Christmas at nine thirty eight,
Twenty beautiful children stormed Heaven's bright gate.
Their broad smiles were contagious, their laughter did share;
They could hardly believe all the beauty was there.

They were filled with such joy, they knew not what to say;
They remembered but naught what had happened that day.
"Where are we?" asked a girl, just as soft as a mouse.
"This is Heaven," he said, "It's God's Christmas, His house."

Then when what to their wondering eyes did appear,
It was Jesus, their Savior; the children drew near.
He descended and smiled, and their smiles were like flame.
Then He opened His arms and He called them by name.

In that moment was joy only Heaven can bring;
As those children all flew to the arms of their King.
As they lingered with joy in His great warm embrace,
One small girl turned and looked into Jesus' face.

And as if He could read all the questions she had,
He then whispered, "I'll care for your Mom and your Dad."
Then He looked down on earth, the big world far below;
He saw oceans of hurt, and of sorrow, and woe.

Then He closed both His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
"Let My power and presence re-enter this land!
May this country be freed from the hands of those fools.
I'm reclaiming my nation! Reclaiming my schools!"

And then He and the children arose without sound.
"So now come here my children, I'll show you around."
And the children enthused, as some skipped and some ran;
All displaying the energy small children can.

And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"In the midst of this darkness, I still am the light."

Posted 2012/December/27