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 classic Masonic poem by Bro Rudyard Kipling.

  • The Palace

    By Bro Rudyard Kipling

    When I was a King and a Mason-
    A Master Proven and skilled-
    I cleared me ground for a Palace
    Such as a King should build
    I decreed and dug down to my levels;
    Presently, under silt,
    I came upon the wreck of a Palace,
    Such as a King had built.

    There was no worth in the fashion-
    There was no wit in the plan;
    Hither and thither, aimless,
    The ruined footings ran,
    Masonry, brute, mishandled,
    But carven on every stone
    “After me cometh a Builder;
    Tell him I, too, have known”

    Swift to my use in the trenches,
    Where my well-planned groundwork’s grew,
    I tumbled his quoins and his ashlars,
    And cut and rest them anew.
    Lime I milled of his marbles;
    Burned it, slacked it, and spread;
    Taking and leaving at pleasure
    The gifts of the humble dead.

    Yet, I despised not nor gloried
    Yet, as we wrenched them apart,
    I read in the razed foundation
    The heart of the builder’s heart.
    As he has risen and pleaded,
    So, did I understand
    The form of the dream he had followed
    In the face of the thing he had planned

    When I was King and a Mason
    In the open noon of my pride,
    They sent me a Word from the Darkness-
    They whispered and called me aside.
    They said “The end is forbidden.”
    They said “Thy use is fulfilled.
    The palace shall stand as that other’s-
    The spoil of a King who shall build.

    I called my men from my trenches,
    My quarries, my wharves, and my sheers;
    All I had wrought I abandoned
    To the faith of the faithless years.
    Only I cut on the timber-
    Only I carved on the stone;
    “After me cometh a Builder;
    Tell him I, too, have known!”