Many things have been written about Freemasonry in countless books and in papers to be delivered to Masonic research associations, but how many of us know that there is wealth of beautiful material about Freemasonry written in the form of poems.
Some of the world’s greatest men of letters who were Freemasons themselves, have written some wonderful poems. Let’s take Rudyard Kipling and Robbie Burns as just two examples, yet equally some less well known Masons have embodied the teachings and philosophy of Freemasonry in their poems and we will take a look at these too.
There will be one or two poems appearing in this feature every month chosen by our ‘Masonic Poet Laureate’, Fred Lomax and we hope you enjoy reading them.
This month we have a poem by a relatively little known Masonic poet, WBro Fay Hempstead who resided in the State of Arkansas.
The little lodge of long ago
By Douglas Malloch
The little Lodge of long ago-
It wasn’t very much for show:
Men met above the village store,
And cotton more than satin wore,
And sometimes stumbled on a word,
But no one cared, or no one heard.
Then tin reflectors threw the light
Of kerosene across the night
And down the highway served to call
The faithful to the Masonic Hall
It wasn’t very much, I know,
The little Lodge of long ago.
But, men who meet in finer halls,
Forgive me if the mind recalls
With love, not laughter, doors of pine,
And smoky lamps that dimly shine,
Regalia tarnished, garments frayed,
Or cheaply bought or simply made,
And floors uncarpeted, and men
Whose grammar falters now and then-
For Craft, or Creed, or God Himself,
Is not a book a book upon a shelf:
They have a splendour that will touch
A Lodge that isn’t very much.
It wasn’t very much – and yet
This made it great: there Mason’s met-
And’ if a handful or a host,
That always matters, matters most
The beauty of the meeting hour
Is not a thing of robe or flow’r
However beautiful they seem:
The greatest beauty is the gleam
Of sympathy in honest eyes.
A lodge is not a thing of size
It is a thing of Brotherhood
And that alone can make it good.
This month a poem is present following the inspiring spectacle
of the games of the same name just concluded in Canada
William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be,
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced or cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul.