The Boy Who Laughed At Santa Claus

In Baltimore there lived a boy.
He wasn’t anybody’s joy.
Although his name was Jabez Dawes,
His character was full of flaws. In school he never led his classes,
He hid old ladies’ reading glasses,
His mouth was open when he chewed,
And elbows to the table glued.
He stole the milk of hungry kittens,
And walked through doors marked NO ADMITTANCE.
He said he acted thus because
There wasn’t any Santa Claus.
Another trick that tickled Jabez
Was crying ‘Boo’ at little babies.
He brushed his teeth, they said in town,
Sideways instead of up and down.
Yet people pardoned every sin,
And viewed his antics with a grin,
Till they were told by Jabez Dawes,
‘There isn’t any Santa Claus!’
Deploring how he did behave,
His parents swiftly sought their grave.
They hurried through the portals pearly,
And Jabez left the funeral early.
Like whooping cough, from child to child,
He sped to spread the rumor wild:
‘Sure as my name is Jabez Dawes
There isn’t any Santa Claus!’
Slunk like a weasel of a marten
Through nursery and kindergarten,
Whispering low to every tot,
‘There isn’t any, no there’s not!’
The children wept all Christmas eve
And Jabez chortled up his sleeve.
No infant dared hang up his stocking
For fear of Jabez’ ribald mocking.
He sprawled on his untidy bed,
Fresh malice dancing in his head,
When presently with scalp-a-tingling,
Jabez heard a distant jingling;
He heard the crunch of sleigh and hoof
Crisply alighting on the roof.
What good to rise and bar the door?
A shower of soot was on the floor.
What was beheld by Jabez Dawes?
The fireplace full of Santa Claus!
Then Jabez fell upon his knees
With cries of ‘Don’t,’ and ‘Pretty Please.’
He howled, ‘I don’t know where you read it,
But anyhow, I never said it!’
‘Jabez’ replied the angry saint,
‘It isn’t I, it’s you that ain’t.
Although there is a Santa Claus,
There isn’t any Jabez Dawes!’
Said Jabez then with impudent vim,
‘Oh, yes there is, and I am him!
Your magic don’t scare me, it doesn’t’
And suddenly he found he wasn’t!
From grimy feet to grimy locks,
Jabez became a Jack-in-the-box,
And ugly toy with springs unsprung,
Forever sticking out his tongue.
The neighbors heard his mournful squeal;
They searched for him, but not with zeal.
No trace was found of Jabez Dawes,
Which led to thunderous applause,
And people drank a loving cup
And went and hung their stockings up.
All you who sneer at Santa Claus,
Beware the fate of Jabez Dawes,
The saucy boy who mocked the saint.
Donner and Blitzen licked off his paint.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Ogden Nash's poem The Boy Who Laughed At Santa Claus


  1. Laughten says:

    This poem was my favorite, when I was three. My mom read it to me. I knew at that time that santa clause was not real. And when my mom read this to me, 50 years ago, I stoped not believing in santa clause!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    HE IS REAL!!!!!!! HE IS NOT A FAKE!!!!!!! I decided that I wouldn’t have kids so I wouldn’t have to put presents under the tree.

  2. John Parker says:

    I last read this poem about 35 years ago in my Junior High School Library. It must have made quite an impression on me, since I still remember it, and Jabez Dawes’ name. After all of these years, I suddenly decided to read it again , and I found this site searching for it. I remember “cries of pretty please” and him being turned into a jack-in-the-box. Too bad you couldn’t put the poem on this site, because I can’t remember any more of it.

  3. Edward H. Laughlin says:

    Mr. Bengtsson:

    Some 30 Christmases ago I wanted to give my sister a special Xmas gift. Knowing her love of Ogden Nash I memorized Jabez Dawes and happily recited it each year for her amusment and enjoyment.

    Time has seen the loss of my sister and the dimming of my memory, so in practicing to resurrect Jabez once again this evening I came across your web space. To me and I hope to family and friends who have had to put with my recitations, this wicked lad has come to be a fun companion for our Holidays Thanks for posting it

  4. Markiesha says:

    This is a very good poem and he is a very good writer. I wish that he was still alive so that he coyld tell me his secert of how he writes so good.

  5. Elijah Polson Groulx says:

    I want you to put The Boy who Laughed at Santa Cluas
    i want The boy who laughed at santa cluas

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