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.

“Unto the Least of These”

Hail, Craftsman, hail! Canst thou in honor say

Thou hast fulfilled the glory of this day,

Ere thou hast heard the plea of those who miss

A mother’s holy love, a father’s kiss?

 

Tho’ from thy lavish hand such riches pour

As even princes had not known before,

Hast though much given while a Brother’s child

Wakes to a dawn on which Christ has not smiled?

If Thou hast children, or the memories

Of dear soft lips that once thy cheek didst know,

Give to the orphaned waifs and thou wilt please

The Master who hath said long, long ago:

“As ye have done it to the least of these,

Thus ye have done it unto Me also.”

— George Sanford Holmes, from The Square & Compass, December 1921

Mason Marks

They’re traced in lines on the Parthenon,

Inscribed by the subtle Greek;

And Roman legions have carved them on

Walls, roads and arch antique;

Long ere the Goth, with vanal hand,

Gave scope to his envy dark,

The Mason craft in many a land

Has graven its Mason mark.

 

The obelisk old and the pyramids,

Around which a mystery clings,—

The Hieroglyphs on the coffin lids

Of weird Egyptian kings,—

Syria, Carthage and Pompeii,

Buried and strewn and stark,

Have marble records that will not die,

Their primitive Mason mark.

 

Upon column and frieze and capital,

In the eye of the caste volute,—

On Scotia’a curve, or an astrogal,

Or in triglyp’s channel acute,—

Cut somewhere on the entablature,

And oft, like a sudden spark,

Flashing a light on a date obscure,

Shines many a Mason mark.

 

These craftsmen old had genial whim,

That nothing could e’er destroy,

With a love of their art that naught could dim,

They toiled with a chronic joy;

Nothing was too complex to essay,

In aught they dashed to embark;

They triumphed on many an Appian Way,

Where they’d left their Mason mark.

 

Crossing the Alps like Hannibal,

Or skirting the Pyrenees,

On peak and plain, in crypt and cell,

On foot or on bandaged knees;—

From Tiber to Danube, from Rhine to Seine,

They needed no “letters of marque;”—

Their art was their passport in France and Spain,

And in Britain their Mason mark.

 

The monolith gray and Druid chair,

The pillars and towers of Gael,

In Ogham occult their age they bear,

That time can only reveal.

Live on, old monuments of the part,

Our beacons through ages dark!

In primal majesty still you’ll last,

Endeared by each Mason mark.

— Anonymous

God’s Freemasonry

Here in a lodge of pines I sit;

The canopy thrown over it

Is heaven’s own of very blue;

Due east and west its precincts lie

And always the all-seeing eye

Of summer’s sun is shining through.

 

Its portals open to the west;

The chipmunk gray and sober dressed,

The tyler is: You see him dodge

To challenge every new alarm:

He has no sword upon his arm

But well he guards this secret lodge.

 

Out master is that giant pine

Who bends o’er us with mein divine

To keep the lodge in order trim:

His wardens are two gray-beard birch

Who sit like elders in a church

Or make decorous bows to him.

 

The deacons are two slender trees,

Who move about whene’er the breeze

Brings orders from the master’s seat;

Our organist? Where thickest glooms

Are darkening in the pine top’s plumes

The brother winds out music beat.

 

Whoever knocks upon the door

To learn the ancient wildwood lore,

That one he is our candidate:

We strip him of his city gear,

And meet him on the level here,

Then to our ways initiate.

 

We slip the hoodwink from his eye

And bid him look on earth and sky

To read the hieroglyphics there;

More ancient these than Golden Fleece

Or Roman Eagle, Tyre, or Greece,

Or Egypt old beyond compare.

 

On grass and stone and flower and sod

Is written down by hand of God

The secrets of this Masonry;

Who has the hoodwink from his eyes

May in these common things surprise

The awful signs of Deity.

 

Here bird and plant and man and beast

Are seeking their Eternal East:

And here in springtime may be heard,

By him who doth such teachings seek

With praying heart, and wise, and meek,

The thundering of the old Lost World.

 

All things that in creation are

From smallest fly to largest star,

In this fellowship may be

For all that floweth out from Him,

From dust to man and seraphim

Belong to God’s freemasonry.

— H L Haywood, from The Builder, December 1918

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