Category Archives: Hermetic Library arts and letters

This Hermetic Library Arts and Letters pool is a participatory place for sharing poetry, prose, and other written works that are inspired by or manifests the Western Esoteric Tradition.

Tubal Cain

Old Tubal Cain was a man of might,

In the days when earth was young;

By the fierce red light of his furnace bright,

The strokes of his hammer rung:

And he lifted high his brawny hand

On the iron glowing clear,

Till the sparks rushed out in scarlet showers,

As he fashioned the sword and the spear.

And he sang: “Hurrah for my handiwork!

Hurrah for the spear and the sword!

Hurrah for the hand that shall wield them well,

For he shall be king and lord.”

 

To Tubal Cain came many a one,

As he wrought by his roaring fire,

And each one prayed for a strong steel blade

As the crown of his desire:

And he made them weapons sharp and strong,

Till they shouted loud for glee,

And gave him gifts of pearl and gold,

And spoils of the forest free.

And they sang: “Hurrah for Tubal Cain,

Who hath given us strength anew!

Hurrah for the smith, hurrah for the fire,

And hurrah for the metal true!”

 

But a sudden change came o’er his heart,

Ere the setting of the sun,

And Tubal Cain was filled with pain

For the evil he had done;

He saw that men, with rage and hate,

Made war upon their kind,

That the land was red with the blood they shed,

In their lust for carnage blind.

And he said: “Alas! that ever I made,

Or that skill of mine should plan,

The spear and the sword for men whose joy

Is to slay their fellow man!”

 

And for many a day old Tubal Cain

Sat brooding o’er his woe;

And his hand forbore to smite the ore,

And his furnace smouldered low.

But he rose at last with a cheerful face,

And a bright courageous eye,

And bared his strong right arm for work,

While the quick flames mounted high.

And he sang: “Hurrah for my handiwork!”

And the red sparks lit the air;

“Not alone for the blade was the bright steel made,”—

And he fashioned the first ploughshare.

 

And men, taught wisdom from the past,

In friendship joined their hands,

Hung the sword in the hall, the spear on the wall,

And ploughed the willing lands;

And sang: “Hurrah for Tubal Cain!

Our stanch good friend is he;

And for the ploughshare and the plough

To him our praise shall be.

But while oppression lifts its head,

Or a tyrant would be lord,

Though we may thank him for the plough,

We’ll not forget the sword!”

— Charles Mackey, 1915

Is It Masonry?

Is it Masonry

To dare to take God’s name in vain,

Or be careful of our speech;

From evil thoughts and words refrain,

And practice what we preach?

 

Is it Masonry

To boast of your fine jewels,

Or purify your heart;

To be a man and Mason

And act a Mason’s part?

 

Is it Masonry

To fail to help your brothers,

Or your obligations fill?

To leave it for the others,

Or mean and say “I Will”?

— F G Oliver, 1915

The Palace

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 the 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 my trenches,

Where my well-planned groundworks 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 nor not gloried

Yet, as we wrenched them apart,

I read in the razed foundation

The heart of that 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 a 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.

Thy 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!”

— Rudyard Kipling

The Builders

If in the rearing of an edifice

We form one stone that makes the perfect whole;

To us ‘twould be the beau-ideal of bliss

And prove glad unction to the work-worn soul.

A Temple with proportions just and true

Can but erected be by Masons skilled,

Instructed by an Architect who knew

Exactly how to tell them what to build.

And he taught us—however small the stone—

To plumb and level by th’ unerring Square—

To make it pattern, so that all might own

‘Twas strong and beautiful beyond compare,—

With Chisel and with Gavel we have wrought

To gain “Well Done,”—The Tongue of Good Report.

— Charles F Forshaw, 1916

The Master Degree

Life’s brief moments, swiftly flying,

Speed us near and nearer Death;

Earth and Time are quickly dying,

Passing like a vapour breath.

 

Earth and all its passions perish,

Time and all its duties cease;

Wealth and power, that mankind cherish,

Bring us here no joy and peace.

 

Swift, swifter still ar every breath,

Near, and more near, steals silent Death;

Help! help us now, O Thou Most High!

In this dread hour of mystery.

Fellowcraft Degree

Onward moves the whole Creation,

Working out the eternal plan;

Sun and planet, stream and ocean,

Flower and forest, beast and man,

Never resting, ever going

Forward on their destined way;

Spring to Summer-glory growing,

Morn merging into Day.

 

Forward, Brother, then be going,

To the might of manhood move;

And thy going be ‘t in growing,

And thy growing be ‘t in love.

Apprentice Degree

Through midnight dark I feebly grope my way

Oppressed with fear;

I dread to go, and yet I dare not stay

With danger near;

Eternal Father! guide my feet aright,

And lead me, step by step, up to the Light.

 

I do not know the secret path I tread

Thro’ scenes unknown,

I humbly wander whither I am led—

Thy power I own;

Eternal Father! guide me through this night,

And lead me, step by step, up to the Light.

 

The World, its pride and passions, wealth and power,

All, all are gone;

Blind, poor, and weak I trust, in this dread hour,

On Thee alone;

Eternal Father! guide me in Thy Might,

And lead me, step by step, up to the Light.