The Legend Of The New Year.

A poem by Kate Seymour Maclean

I dreamed, and lo, I saw in my dream a beautiful gateway,
Arched at the top, and crowned with turrets lance-windowed and olden,
And sculptured in arabesque, all knotted and woven and spangled;
A wonderful legend ran, in letters purple and golden
Written in leaves and blossoms, inextricably intertangled,
A legend I could not resolve, crowning the gate so stately.

Like statues carven and niched in the front of some old cathedral,
Four angels stood each in his turret, immovable warders,
The first with reverend locks snow-white, and a silver volume
Of beard that twinkled with frost, and hung to the icicled borders
That fringed his girdle beneath: ancient his look was, and solemn,
Like a wrinkled and bearded saint blessing some worshipping bedral.

As one in a vision wrapped, with his staff he silently pointed
To the golden legend written in glittering star-points under,
Shining in crystal ferns, and translucent berries of holly.
Yet as I pondered the words of ineffable awe and wonder,
A mist of rainbow brightness obscured them, and hid them wholly,
While wrapt in his vision he stood, like a prophet anointed.

Divers, yet lovely the next, a white-armed, golden-haired maiden;
Blue were her eyes and sweet, and her garments were lily-bordered;
Her hands were full of flowers, and her eyes of innocent gladness,
As the ranks of buds and blossoms, of bees and buds she ordered,
Each in their several paths. Mine eyes were heavy with sadness,
For I read not yet the legend with beauty and mystery laden.

Robed and crowned like an empress in some medieval palace,
Stood the third in her place, with glances of sun-lighted splendour;
Stately her height and tall as a queen in some antique story,
With sheaves about her feet, and the tribute which nations render
To her as the lady of Kingdoms, yet underneath the glory
Of that bright legend to hers was like a containing chalice.

Last of the four, in her turret, serene and benignant,
Sat in the midst of her children and maidens, a household mother;
Want, and the sons of penury dwell not among her neighbours;
Full is her heart of love: her hands wipe the tears of another,
Yet brings she the gold and the pearls of her manifold labours,
To add to that shining legend the grace of her name and her signet.

Fast closed were the gates, and mute in their places the wardens;
No voice in my longing ear whispered the mystical sentence,
And my heart was heavy, and chilled with the fruitless endeavour.
On this side lay the snow and the wind, like the wail of repentance,
Moaned in the branches forlorn but through the closed lattices ever
Drifted a stir and a fragrance of springtime over the borders.

Then through the stillness of night struck the clash and the clangor
Of bells that told twelve from the towers of the neighbouring city;
And lo! the great gates were flung wide, and thronged with the hurrying races--
High and low, rich and poor--and the light of ineffable pity,
And infinite love shone down and illumined their faces,
Faces of dolor some, of hope, of sorrow, and anger.

Loud clanged the hells from the towers in jubilant rudeness,
And like the voice of a multitude rising respondent,
The words of that marvellous legend made vocal the silence--
The voice of all sentient creatures ascended triumphant,
And all the listening forests, and mountains, and islands
Heard it, and sang it, "He crowneth the Year with His goodness!"

Praise Him, O sounding seas, and floods! praise Him, abounding rivers;
Praise Him, ye flowery months, and every fruitful season!
Praise Him, O stormy wind, and ice, and snow, and vapor,
Ye cattle that clothe the hills, and man with marvellous reason;
Who crowneth the year with goodness, who prospereth all thy labour,
Yea, let all flesh bless the Lord, and magnify Him forever!

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