Masonic poet’s corner

  • 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 prolific Masonic poet,  Bro Lawrence N Greenleaf.

  • This month’s poem has appeared before but it is worth repeating.

    The Lodge-room over Simpkins Store, Colorado, USA

    A true story reflected in a poem about a lodge which met in a room above a country store in Colorado, USA. Now restored by several lodges it is a completely equipped room with pioneer furnishings donated by more than twenty of the older Masonic lodges of Colorado.

    Dedicated on 13 June 1959 by the Grand Lodge of Colorado in memory of Past Grand Master, Lawrence Greenleaf, who wrote the moving poem ‘The Lodge-room over Simpkin’s Store’. The master’s chair is a replica of that used by John M. Chivington, first Grand Master.

    South Park City, Fairplay, Colorado, is an authentic restoration of an early pioneer mining town.

    The Lodge-room over Simpkins Store

    Bro Lawrence N Greenleaf

    The plainest Lodge room in the land was over Simpkins’ store,
    Where Friendship Lodge had met each month for fifty’ years or more.
    When o’er the earth the moon full-orbed, had cast her brightest beams,
    The Brethren came from miles around on horseback and in teams,
    And 0! what heavy grasp of hand, what welcome met them there,
    As mingling with the waiting groups they slowly mount the stair,
    Exchanging fragmentary news or prophecies of crop,
    Until they reach the Tyler’s room and current topics drop,
    To turn their thoughts to nobler themes they cherish and adore,
    And which were heard on meeting night up over Simpkins’ Store.

    To city eyes, a cheerless room, long usage had defaced,
    The tell-tale lines of lath and beam on wall and ceiling traced.
    The light from oil-fed lamps was dim and yellow in its hue,
    The carpet once could pattern boast though now ’twas lost to view
    The altar and the pedestals that marked the stations three,
    The gate-post pillars topped with balls, the rude-carved Letter G,
    Where village joiner’s clumsy work, with many things besides,
    Where beauty’s lines were all effaced and ornament denied.
    There could be left no lingering doubt, if doubt there was before,
    The plainest Lodge room in the land was over Simpkins’ Store.

    While musing thus on outward form the meeting time drew near
    And we had glimpse of inner life through watchful eye and ear.
    When Lodge convened at gavel’s sound with officers in place,
    We looked for strange, conglomerate work, but could no errors trace.
    The more we saw the more we heard, the greater our amaze,
    To find those country Brethren there so skilled in Masons’ ways.
    But greater marvels were to come before the night was through,
    Where unity was not mere name, but fell on hearts like dew
    Where tenets had the mind imbued, and truths rich fruitage bore,
    In plainest Lodge room in the land, up over Simpkins’ Store.

    To hear the record of their acts was music to the ear
    We sing of deeds unwritten which on angel’s scroll appear;
    A widow’s case for our helpless ones Lodge funds were running low
    A dozen Brethren sprang to feet and offers were not slow
    Food, raiment things of needful sort while one gave a load of wood,
    Another shoes for little ones, for each gave what he could.
    Then spoke the last ‘I haven’t things like these to give out then,
    Some ready money may help out’; – and he laid down a ten.
    Were Brother cast on darkest square upon life’s checkered floor
    A beacon light to reach the white was over Simpkins’ Store.

    Like scoffer who remained to pray, impressed by sight and sound,
    The faded carpet ‘neath our feet was now like holy ground.
    The walls that had such a dingy look turned celestial blue,
    The ceiling changed to canopy where stars were shining through.
    Bright tongues of flame from altar leaped, the G was vivid blaze,
    All common things seemed glorified by heaven’s reflected rays.

    0! wondrous transformation wrought through ministry of love
    Behold the Lodge Room Beautiful! fair type of that above,
    The vision fades-the lesson lives! and taught as ne’er before,
    In the plainest Lodge room in the land-up over Simpkins’ Store.

    With due acknowledgement to the South Park Historical Foundation