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The Cradle and the Charge

So long as our Masonic Temples stand,

So long as lives the Ancient Order grand,

So long will float the Flag of Freedom’s right

Which was, by them, in time past, brought to Light,


This potent power stands now behind the Flag,

And if so be a hand shall dare to drag

It from its place on Freedom’s starry sky

The Craftsman will demand the “reason why.”


The Flag speaks for the Spirit of the Free,-

The old-time thought of true Fraternity;

And it will live beneath it in the “West”

Forever for that which is noblest, best.


And so we’ll trust in Masonry to be

Four-square for aye to righteous Liberty.

Its Cradle was by them rocked in the past

And they will guard their Charge while time shall last.

—L. B. Mitchell, 1920

Hermetic Library Arts and Letters Mitchell the Cradle and the Charge


Three thousand years have rolled away upon the tide of time

Since Masonry began her march of noble deeds sublime;

And though the angry showers of war have swept the earth with fire,

Her temple stands unscathed, unhurt, with sunlight on its spire.

Ten thousand widows in their words have blessed her advent here,

And many a homeless orphan’s heart has owned her tender care,

Full many a frail and erring son to dissipation given

Has heard her warning voice and turned his wayward thoughts to heaven.

Long may her beauteous temple stand to light this darkened sphere,

To gild the gloom of error’s night and dry the falling tear.

And when the final winds of time shall sweep this reeling ball,

Oh, may its glittering spires be the last on earth to fall!

—James Alston Cabell, 1922

Hermetic Library Arts and Letters Cabell Masonry

The Lodge Room Over Simpkin’s Store

The plainest lodge room in the land was over Simpkin’s 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 beam

The brethren came from miles around on horseback and in team,

And ah! what hearty 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 Tiler’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 Simpkin’s store.


To city eyes, a cheerless room, long usage had defaced

The tell-tale line 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 beside,

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 Simpkin’s store.


While musing thus on outward form the mecting time drew near,

And we had a glimpse of inner life through watchful eye and car.

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 Mason’s ways.

But greater marvels were to come before the night was through,

Where unity was not mere name, but fell on earth like dew,

Where tenets had the mind imbued, and truths rich fruitage bore,

In the plainest lodge room in the land, up over Simpkin’s 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 -four 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 loads of wood,

Another, shoes for little ones, for each gave what he could.

Then spake the last: “I haven’t things like these to give – but 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 Simpkin’s 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 dingy look were 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.

O! wondrous transformation wrought through ministry of love-

Behold the Lodge Room Beautiful! — fair type of that above.

The vision fades — the lesson lives — while taught as ne’er before,

In the plainest lodge room in the land — up over Simpkin’s store.

—Lawrence N Greenleaf, 1916

Hermetic Library Arts and Letters the Lodge Room Over Simpkins Store Greenleaf

The Plumb

Build up your life like the temple of old

With stones that are polished and true;

Cement it with love, and adorn it with gold

As all Master builders should do:

Upon a foundation, well chosen and strong,

Build now for the ages to come:

Make use of the good, while rejecting the wrong—

And test all your work with the plumb.

—Neal A McAuley, 1915

Hermetic Library Arts and Letters the Plumb Mcauley

The Apron

Guard thou this Apron even as thy soul!

High Badge it is of an undaunted band,

Which, from the dawn of dim forgotten time,

Has struggled upward in a quest of light; –

Light that is found in reverence of Self,

Unselfish Brother-love, and love of God.

This light now on thine Apron shines undimmed;

Let ne’er a shadow intercept its beams.

Thine eyes late saw the Sun burst from the East,

Marking the Morn of thy Masonic day,

Calling thee forth to labor with thy peers,

Gird then thy lambskin on; nor fail to find

In it a thought of brooks and sweet clean fields,

Haunts of this lamb through many a sunny hour.

Find in it, too, a nobler thought of Him

The Light ineffable, that Lamb of God,

Immaculate, unstained by shame or sin,

Who, dying, left ensample to all men

Who would build lives in purity and truth.

In Wisdom plan thy Apprentice task; divide

Thy time with care, thy moments spend as though

Each day were lifelong, life but as a day.

In purity of heart and sheer integrity

Use thou the gavel on each stubborn edge,

Divesting thought of aught perchance might stain,

Or scar, or tear this badge of shining white.

At Midday in the Craft’s high fellowship,

Gird round thy life these bands of loyal blue,

Uniting with thee all to thee akin.

Strong in a deepening knowledge, bend thy skill

To leveling false pride in place attained,

To squaring thy foundations with the truth,

To setting each new stone in rectitude.

When in the West the Evening turns to gold

And beautifies what Strength and Wisdom reared,

Pause not, but search thy trestle-board, God’s plan;

And ply with solemn joy thy master tools,

Earth’s many cementing into heaven’s one.

Full soon an unseen Hand shall gently stay

Thine arm; and on thine Apron, scutcheon bright,

Shall rest the Allseeing Eye, adjudging there

The blazoned record of thy workmanship.

Anon, thy Sun goes out and brothers lay,

With thee, thine Apron in the breast of earth,

Among the forgetful archives of the dust.

*   *   *

Wear worthily this thy Masonic badge,

While still thy body toils to build thy soul

A mansion bright, beyond the gates of death,

No edifice that crumbles back to clay,

But a glorious house eternal in the skies.

These, now, be Mason’s wages; when from his hands

Forever fall the working tools of life,

Arising, to ascend to loftier work; –

From out the lowly quarries to be called

To labor in the City of the King;-

Glad in the light of one long endless day,

To serve anew the Celestial Architect

And Sovereign Master of the Lodge Above.

*   *   *

Thy portion, Brother, may it be to hear

These welcome words, when the great Judge shall scan

Thy work, “Well done! Thou good and faithful servant,

Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

—J Hubert Scott, 1915

Hermetic Library Arts and Letters the Apron Scott

The Three Great Lights

The Three Great Lights will guide our steps

Through life’s uncertain way,

And bring us safe at length to see

The bright, eternal day.


The Holy Book our fathers read

With undimmed faith, today

Make clear our sight that we may know

Its precepts to obey.


With square of virtue, try our acts

And make them meet the test;

There is no other cause that leads

To Islands of the Blest.


Between the lines that represent

The longest, shortest day,

Keep circumscribed by compasses

That we go not astray.


The Three Great Lights will guide our steps

Through life’s uncertain way,

And bring us safe at length to see

The bright, eternal day.


Hermetic Library Arts and Letters The Three Great Lights

The Level and the Square

A Ode to an Ode

“We meet upon the Level, and we part upon the Square, –

What words of precious meaning those words Masonic are,”

And they still are ringing, ringing as the Craft today doth know

As they did when Morris sang them more than fifty years ago.


“We meet upon the Level, and we part upon the Square,”

Did the Bard who caught the meaning and who flung it out so fair,

Did the vision of the REAL that the years so soon should see

Give the Poet the perspective of what IS and is to be?


“We meet upon the Level, and we part upon the Square,”

In its true symbolic meaning was unfolded with such care,

That it carried with its rhythm and its setting into song

The true spirit that will ever to the Mystic Art belong.


“We meet upon the Level, and we part upon the Square;”

With the Plumb in the triangle ‘mong the symbols gleaming there,

All their meanings were embellished for the Craft for coming time

Through the Art and through the Poet of the Art that is sublime.


“We meet upon the Level, and we part upon the Square”

Carries with it the momentum that the Bard transcribed so fair,

Carries with it, upright ever by the true, unerring Plumb

All that lies in mortal vision of the Masonry to come.


We meet upon the Level, and we part upon the Square”

In its meaning has been finding hearts responsive everywhere;

It has met a nature longing in the hungry human heart

Undiscovered till ’twas written into real Masonic Art.


“We meet upon the Level, and we part upon the Square,”

On the Level as it finds us; on the Square as we repair

To our stations in the Temple; to our stations in the world,

Upright in the light of heaven flashing in the gems impearled.


“We meet upon the Level, and we part upon the Square”

Is the answer of the ages to its longing and its prayer.

The solution of the problem of the world’s unrest today

Must be solved by this same token for there is no other way.


Let us then be forging, forging stronger still the Mystic chain,

For the glory of the meeting and the work that doth remain.

In the spirit of the Poet let us do our work with care

“As we meet upon the Level, and we part upon the Square.”

—L B Mitchell, 1917

Hermetic Library Arts and Letters the Level and the Square L B Mitchell

The Master’s Apron

Ther’s mony a badge that’s unco braw,

Wi’ ribbon, lace and tape on;

Let Kings an’ Princes wear them a’

Gie me the Master’s apron!

The honest craftsman’s apron,

The jolly Freemason’s apron,

Be he at hame, or road afar,

Before his touch fa’s bolt and bar,

The gates of fortune fly ajar,

‘Gin he wears the apron!

For wealth and honor, pride and power

Are crumbling stanes to base on;

Eternity suld rule the hour

And ilka worthy Mason!

Each Free Accepted Mason,

Each Ancient Crafted Mason.

Then, brithers let a halesome sang

Arise your friendly ranks alang!

Guidwives and barns blithely sing

To the ancient badge wi’ the apron string

That is worn by the Master Mason!

—Henry Oakes Kent, 1882; often falsely attributed to Robert Burns

Hermetic Library Arts and Letters the Masters Apron Henry Oakes Kent

The Level and the Square

We meet upon the Level and we part upon the Square;

What words of precious meaning those words Masonic are!

Come, let us contemplate them! they are worthy of a thought;

In the very walls of Masonry the sentiment is wrought.


We meet upon the Level, though from every station come,

The rich man from his palace and the poor man from his home;

For the rich must leave his wealth and state outside the Mason’s door,

And the poor man finds his best respect upon the Checkered Floor.


We act upon the Plumb—’tis the orders of our Guide—

We walk upright in virtue’s way and lean to neither side;

Th’ All-Seeing Eye that reads our hearts doth bear us witness true,

That we still try to honor God and give each man his due.


We part upon the Square, for the world must have its due;

We mingle with the multitude, a faithful band and true;

But the influence of our gatherings in memory is green,

And we long upon the Level to renew the happy scene.


There’s a world where all are equal—we are hurrying towards it fast,

We shall meet upon the Level there, when the gates of Death are passed;

We shall stand before the Orient, and our Master will be there,

To try the blocks we offer with His own unerring Square.


We shall meet upon the Level there, but never thence depart;

There’s a Mansion—’tis all ready for each trusting, faithful heart—

There’s a Mansion, and a Welcome, and a multitude is there

Who have met upon the Level, and been tried upon the Square.


Let us meet upon the Level, then, while laboring patient here;

Let us meet and let us labor, though the labor be severe;

Already in the western sky the signs bid us prepare

To gather up our Working fools and part upon the Square.


Hands round, ye faithful Brotherhood, the bright fraternal chain,

We part upon the Square below, to meet in heaven again!

What words of precious meaning those words Masonic are—

We meet upon the Level and we part upon the Square.

— Bro. Rob. Morris, August, 1854

Hermetic Library Arts and Letters the Level and the Square Rob Morris

The Apron Symbolism

More ancient than the Golden Fleece

Whose story shines in classic lore:

Or Roman Eagle—which portrayed

Chivalric deeds in dare of yore.


More honored than the Knightly Star,

Or Royal Garter, it must be;

A symbol you should fondly keep

From spot and stain forever free.


It may be that in coming years,

As time shall all your labors test:

That laurel leaves of Victory

Shall on your brow in honor rest.


Yea, from your breast may jewels hang

fit for diadem to grace:

And sparkling gems of beauty rare

May on your person find a place.


Nay more, perchance which coming light,

Your feet may tread the path of fame:

Which in our Mystic order leads

To glory, and an honored name.


Yes, on your shoulders there may rest

The purple which we hold so dear:

That ensign which our progress marks

In high fraternal Circles here.


But never more can you receive

From mortal hand while here below:

An emblem which such honor brings

As this one—which I now bestow.


Until your spirit shall have passed

Beyond the pearly gates above:

May this the “Badge of Innocence”

Remind you of your vows of love.


‘Tis yours to wear throughout your life,

‘Til death shall call your soul to God;

Then on your casket to be placed,

When you shall sleep beneath the sod.


Its spotless surface is a type

Of that which marks a noble mind:

The rectitude of heart and life,

Which in its teachings you should find.


And when at last your weary feet

Shall reach the goal awaiting all:

And from your tired nerveless grasp

The working tools of life shall fall.


May then the record of your life,

reflect the pure and spotless white

Of this fair token which I place

Within your keeping here tonight.


And as your naked soul shall stand

Before the great white house throne of light;

And judgement for the deeds of earth

Shall issue there—to bless or blight;


Then may you hear the Welcome Voice

That tells of endless joys begun,

As God shall own your faithfulness,

And greet you with the words, “Well Done.”

— N A McAulay, The Builder, Anamosa, Iowa, December, 1916