'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the ship
Not a pirate was workin'; none feared Bosun's whip.
The bottles of grog were all empty and dry,
Along with the brandy, the scotch and the rye.
The Captain and Mate were both snug in their beds,
While everyone else had a hammock instead.
Cook in the galley and I in the nest
Were the last to succumb to an uneasy rest.
When I saw on the waves and across the dark ocean
A vague ghostly shape was quickly approachin',
I grabbed for my spyglass and squinted an eye
To find out which standard this spectre would fly.
The moonlight reflected from foam and from froth
And revealed a queer boat without mast or sailcloth.
It bobbed as it rode, and I looked down below:
Tiny dolphins were hitched, like dogs in a row.
A flag redder than blood and whiter than bone
With a great bearded skull and crossed candy canes shone!
There is only one man with the jack “Jolly Elf”;
I knew in my heart this was Whitebeard himself.
“Now Marlin! Now Mako! Now Mullet and Perch!”
At his voice the small craft leapt forth with a lurch.
“On Snapper! On Flounder! On Stingray and Scad!
“There's a job to be done and a ship to be had.”
I knew not if he meant to do goodwill or harm,
So I opened my mouth to sound the alarm,
But some charm or spell or some hex they were under
Kept the crew fast asleep and steadfast in their slumber.
He took time to hail me with a nod and a wink
'Fore a grappling hook hit the rail with a clink.
I climbed down the mast almost breaking my neck,
But already too late: he was standing on deck.
His trousers were black, but his jacket was red;
The plume in his hat was as white as his head.
His belt was stretched taut, barely bound by the brass,
And he carried a sack that jingled like glass.
He was hoary and old, his skin pocked and wrinkled.
He had a patch on one eye, but the other eye twinkled.
He carried no sword, nor needed he one:
I was rooted in place. Couldn't draw; couldn't run.
I followed this man 'gainst my will to each berth.
His laugh rolled and rumbled, shaking his girth.
He took all he found, and he found all there was.
Every penny aboard was plucked out by his claws.
All the loot we had labored for hours to hide
In minutes he found; not a bit was denied.
Every jewel, every gem, every coin, every ring,
All the silk, all the ivory; he took everything.
Every man that he robbed, as he filled up his sack,
He returned something to, gave them all one thing back.
When I gave him my watch (he need not even ask),
He handed to me the same full amber flask.
How his bag held it all, I never will know.
He took it back to his boat, all tied up with a bow.
He spoke as he signaled his team with his thumb:
“Yo ho ho, Merry Christmas, and a bottle of rum!”
And as a small Christmas present, I have wallpaper to go with the poem this year: the Jolly Elf, in 1600px × 1200px and 1024px × 768px resolutions.