A Marble Year  (1896) 
by William James Roe

Published in January

   The wassail cup passed from lass to lad,—
Lassies and laddies all Highland born,—
   Tartan and bonnet and snood and plaid,
Kirtle and claymore and brooch o' Lorn.

   Hallow’s tide e’en, at twelve o’ the clock:
Who’ll hie to the wood to fetch the good
   Or ill perchance our fates to unlock
For all o’ the year from Wonderwood?

   Then up spake Maggie, the sweetest maid,—
Beautiful, lovely and brave and good,—
   “I’ll go, I’ll go, I am not afraid,
I’ll hie to the heart of Wonderwood.

   “Now Lochlin, dear, come gie me a kiss,
And spare an hour and quietly wait,
   I’ll surely be hame in an hour frae this,
I’ll see the goblin and know our fate.”

   Wonderwood beckons with arms of oak,
Beckons and welcomes the Highland maid,—
   She’s greeted now by the goblin folk:
“What may be your will, fair lass ?” they said.

   “I’d ken,” quoth she, “o’ the year to come,—
Whate’er may happen, or ill or good,—
   For ye can tell tho’ the world be dumb;
For this I have hied to Wonderwood.”

   Then drew the king of the goblins near:
“I’ll tell you all, but I’ll tell you slow;
   Better you bide the end o’ the year;
Then, goblin or none, belike you’ll know.”

   “Now quit your prattle,” quoth Maggie. “Hush,
Tell of the things till next Hallow’s tide;
   I want them a’ to come wi a rush,—
The good or the ill that Fate wad hide.

   “The king of the goblins waved his wand:
“‘Tis much to you. but it’s naught to me,—
   Ye want to ken a’ the things beyond,—
Fair maid, your wishes I’ll gladly gie.”

   As the goblin spoke she turned to stone,
Right where she stood in her smock and snood,—
   Nothing alive but her thoughts alone,—
A marble image in Wonderwood.

   So there she stayed in her robe of white,
Ne’er moving at all the livelong year,
   Till full o’ the moon at dead o’ night
Next Hallow’s tide e’en the king drew near:

   “Good Mistress Maggie,” he snarled and snapped,
You’ve had your wishes for Hallow’s tide,
   I wish ye luck o’ the things that happed;
I ken ‘twere better at harne to hide.

   “But never say aught to kin or kith,
Never say aught or evil or good,
   But bide ye dumb or ‘twill be your death
O’ the thing that happened in Wonderwood.”

   She hies her quick to her ain dear hame,
She lifts the latch with a gentle push;
   Alas and alack I then a’ things came,—
As she wished them a’ to come,—wi’ a rush.

   No Hallow’s e’en guest was there the night;
Brother and sister they baith were there;
   Her gray-haired mither had died wi’ fright,
And Lochlin had gan and none kenned where.

   Poor Maggie sits like a marble lass;
From year to year, upon Hallow’s tide,
   She raves till twelve o’ the clock shall pass:
“‘Tis worse to greet than it is to bide;

   For I could have made me fate mesel’,—
All that I ought by God's ain law;
   Alas and alack I what things befel
Wi’ Maggie at hame had na happened ata’.”

This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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