.Return to POETRY INDEX                     Return to PGL WebTOP


The Trowel

by Bro. R. J. McLauchlin

Now each man builds a Temple by his single strength alone,
And whatsoe'er its worthiness, that Temple is his own,
Of chaste and gleaming marble or of ugly mud and clay,
Each Temple must its builder's self, his secret soul, display.

The world beholds and reasons "Lo, this builder's house is fair;
All honor to the Craftsman who has set such beauty there;
For such a noble monument, so straight and white and grand,
Reveals a wise and cleanly brain, a strong and cleanly hand."

But oftentimes it happens that, ere many years have sped,
This Temple's symmetry departs, its beauty wholly fled,
And what was once magnificence is soil and wrack and rust,
And perfect columns find their rest in overwhelming dust.

Ah, world, look closely when you would a Temple well discern,
And peradventure lessons may you profitably learn,
Behold its stones but ere you say "The hand that wrought was clean."
Take heed of other buildings and mark what lies between.

There is no house the Master sees- and calls the builder good-
Whose stones are not anointed by the hand of brotherhood,
Which have not felt the Trowel's touch which there the mortar laid,
The mortar that the builder's self, his secret soul, displayed.

Howe'er the Temple's grace, whate'er the builder's pain,
Because it lacked the Trowel's touch, the same was reared in vain,
And in despite of outward strength, of beauty and renown,
Because it lacked the Trowel's touch, the same shall crumble down.

For each man builds a Temple by his single might alone,
And whatsoe'er its worthiness, that Temple is his own;
The world may judge the beauty which the world's blind eyes have seen,
But only may the Master say "The builder's hand was clean."



The Trowel

by Bro. Robert Morris

The Perfect Ashlars, duly set,
Within the walls, need mortar yet-
A Cement mixed with ancient skill,
And tempered at the Builder's will;
With this each crevice is concealed-
Each flaw and crack securely sealed,-
And all the blocks within their place
United in one perfect mass!

For this the Trowel's use is given,-
It makes the work secure and even;
Secure, that storms may not displace,
Even, that beauty's lines may grace;
It is the proof of Mason's art
Rightly to do the Trowel's part!
The rest is all reduced to rule,
But this must come from God's own school!

We build the "House not made with hands";
Our Master, from Celestial lands,
Points out the plan, the blocks, the place,
And bids us build in strength and grace:
From quarries' store we choose the rock,
We shape and smooth the perfect block,
And placing it upon the wall,
Humbly the Master's blessing call.

But there is yet a work undone,-
To fix the true and polished stone!
The Master's blessings will not fall
Upon a loose, disjointed wall;
Exposed to ravages of time,
It cannot have the mark sublime
That age and honor did bestow
Upon the FANE on Sion's brow.

Brothers, true Builders of the soul,
Would you become one perfect whole,
That all the blasts which time can move
Shall only strengthen you in love?
Would you, as life's swift sands shall run,
Build up the Temple here begun,
That death's worst onset it may brave,
And you eternal wages have?

Then fix in love's cement the heart!
Study and act the Trowel's part!
Strive, in the Compass' span to live,
And mutual concessions give!
Daily your prayers and alms bestow,
As yonder light doth clearly show,
And walking by the Plummet just,
In God your hope, in God your trust!



by Silas H. Shepherd

He who acts upon the square
Will always well with all compare.
The Mason uses tools of love
To build a Temple planned above.
The Gauge he constantly employs
To measure work and limit joys.
The Plumb imbues his soul and heart
With love Divine and sacred art.
The Level guides his daily act
And makes good fellowship a fact.
If we employ these tools today
A beautiful Temple will be our pay.



By Bro. Michael N. Salmore

The tools of a true Master Mason-
A man who has proven his skill-
Are any or all as he chooses,
His tasks to correctly fulfill.
Foremost of these is the trowel,
Which practical builders all class
As the tool for spreading of mortar
Uniting the house in one mass.

But we as Freemasons would use it
For purpose more noble and grand,
As Craftsmen have faithfully taught us,
As Masonry's rituals command,
To spread the cement of affection,
Devotion and brotherly love,
To bring peace, good will and contentment
On earth as in Heaven above.

Yea; that's the cement that unites us
In one sacred union of friends-
Brothers 'mongst whom no contention,
Nor discord nor diff'rence portends,
Except that most noble contention
By Masons Accepted and Free;
Or rather that fine emulation
Of who can best work and agree.




By Brother David Barker
(From Brotherhood, New York City, May, 1916)

Is a Brother off the track?
Try the Square;
Try it well on every side.
Nothing draws a craftsman back
Like the Square when well applied.
Try the Square.

Is he crooked, is he frail?
Try the Square.
Try it early, try it late;
When all other efforts fail,
Try the Square to make him straight-
Try the Square.

Does he still persist in wrong?
Try the Square.
Loves he darkness more than light?
Try it thorough, try it long.
Try the Square to make him right-
Try the Square.

Fails the Square to bring him in?
Try the Square.
Be not sparing of the pains;
While there's any work to do,
While a crook or knot remains-
Try the Square.



The Square

By R.J. McLauchlin

The Elders of out ancient art
Built Temples, high and fair,
And never stone was laid in place
And never column rose in grace,
Untested by the Square.

Our Elders left a heritage,
Up reared in wood and stone,
That we, who follow, might behold
The craft of these, the men of old,
Thus, through their works, made known.

Oh, let us do our work as well,
Though never dome we raise,
With brain untutored, hand unskilled,
A square-set Temple we may build,
Of simple nights and days.

The Square of Virtue for our acts
Wherewith to set them true,
Can make a building, standing quite
As worthy in our children's sight,
And in the Master's, too.

Thus may we, too, great builders be
As any ancient race;
Our Temple is the square-set mind,
Wherein the Master's Self may find
A fitting dwelling-place.



The Level

By R.J. McLauchlin

Oh, he who rides th' untrammeled winds of fame,
And he whose steps are painful made and slow,
Shall reach at length one goal; yea, each the same;
For on Time's Level do their courses go.

And man, composed of fragile mortal stuff,
His fame must doff, his glory leave behind,
Nor pride nor power has potency enough
To raise one mortal man above his kind.

The ages' wisdom gives this message birth,
The sweep of generations can display
The bones of Caesar, mightiest of earth,
Beside his vassals, crumbling in the clay.

And thus the Craftsmen anciently were taught
That glory, on Time's Level, finds defeat,
And there have they their full communion sought,
And there they evermore shall work and meet.

The mighty and the lowly there shall bend
Unto the nearest tasks their lives provide;
The humble shall arise, the high descend,
As brothers, on the Level, side by side.



The Plumb

By R.J. McLauchlin

Here walks one Craftsman mightily adown his earthly ways,
Another treads in humbler wise his round of nights and days,
And each completes his journey, and lo, each one has trod
Upright among his fellows and erect before his God.

And who shall say that one is great, the other nothing worth,
When each has stood uprightly in the councils of the earth?
And who shall say the Master will withhold his fullest grace
From one, however lowly, who erect has held his place?

Ah, patiently and slowly doth the age-long balance swing
To weigh the humble toiler and the ermine-vestured king,
And peradventure, finally, the toiler shall attain,
Beyond his mighty brother, to a rarer, loftier plane.

Behold the Plumb, my brothers, and regard its lesson well,
The lore of life and life's rewards its perfect line can tell,
To stand as straight, to work as true, to live as perfectly,
Is man's first pain, his fullest gain, his fairest destiny.

So he who seeks admonishment, as straight the Plumbline falls,
May scale no heights, speak paltry words, storm no embattled walls,
Yet to the Master's precincts, when his lifetime's toils are through,
Forever shall his footsteps lead, in steadfast course and true.



The Gavel

By R.J. McLauchlin

Within the quarry, I, the youngest Craftsman, stood,
And there were, all about me, mighty blocks
Rough-hewn from out the granite breast of Earth:

So young was I, so foolish and so fond
That, as I stood, I mused upon myself,
Beholding in my person perfect things,
And, as I meditated there, I spoke:

Said I, "Observe in me the ages' heir,
Complete Fulfillment's type and Wisdom's son;
Let Future view my parts and there remark
Its sound salvation, its embodied hope,
For, as I stand, I am the very plinth,
Square-set, whereon its beauty may be built."

A cloud slid down, the moon's fair face was hid,
And, with the darkness, came a curious thing;
A voice, profound, reproving, kind withal,
Proceeded from the center of the stone
And, fearful, I attended it as it spoke;
The living boulder, grown articulate.

"Fond Youth," it told me, "we, thy comrades, speak
Such words as thin when first our shapes assume
Some likeness to the polished ashlars which
Compose the Temple's fair and perfect strength:
But ere our mass be of any use
Lo, we are changed till none that sees us now
Might know us then; and only that remains
Which ages' processes have given us;
Stones are we still, as ye are always men,
But stones prepared by toil and pain and sweat;
And thou, my foolish one, are like to us,
A mighty hulk of vast potential strength,
Potential wisdom, beauty, too, no doubt,
But none of these as yet nor will be till
Thou art prepared, like us, by toil and sweat;
Consider thou the Gavel, let it break
Thee to some fitting semblance of a man,
Else be thou silent, patient to remain
Within the quarry, with thy brother stones."

The cloud slid up, soft light caressed the scene
And all about were simple, mighty blocks
Rough-hewn from out the granite breast of Earth,
Great, futile, massy, purposeless and dumb,
And I was one of them.



The Level, Plumb and Square

by Rob Morris (1818-1888), Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky in 1858-9

We meet upon the Level, and we part upon the Square:
What words sublimely beautiful those words Masonic are!
They fall like strains of melody upon the listening ears,
As they've sounded hallelujahs to the world, three thousand years.

We meet upon the Level, though from every station brought,
The Monarch from his palace and the Laborer from his cot;
For the King must drop his dignity when knocking at our door
And the Laborer is his equal as he walks the checkered floor.

We act upon the Plumb, - 'tis our Master's great command,
We stand upright in virtue's way and lean to neither hand;
The All-Seeing Eye that reads the heart will bear us witness true,
That we do always honor God and give each man his due.

We part upon the Square, - for the world must have its due,
We mingle in the ranks of men, but keep the Secret true,
And the influence in 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 toward it fast,
We shall meet upon the Level there when the gates of death are past;
We shall stand before the Orient and our Master will be there,
Our works to try, our lives to prove by His unerring Square.

We shall meet upon the Level there, but never thence depart.
There's a mansion bright and glorious, set for the pure in heart;
And an everlasting welcome from the Host rejoicing there,
Who in this world of sloth and sin, did part upon the Square.

Let us meet upon the Level, then, while laboring patient here,
Let us meet and let us labor, tho' the labor be severe;
Already in the Western Sky the signs bid us prepare,
To gather up our Working Tools and part upon the Square.

Hands round, ye royal Craftsmen in the bright, fraternal chain!
We part upon the Square below to meet in Heaven again;
Each tie that has been broken here shall be cemented there,
An none be lost around the Throne who parted on the Square.


The Gauge

By R. J. McLauchlin

The gauge divides the lives of men
Until their lifetimes' tales are o'er;
Receive the Gauge, Apprentice, then,
Consider well its hallowed lore!

A time for toil, a time for sleep,
A time to serve such men as need,
The Craftsman thus his faith shall keep.
As on the restless seasons speed.

For Work, whereby the peoples live,
Must needs command its portion fair,
And labor shall the Craftsman give
One-third his days, one-third his care.

And, weary when his tasks are done,
The Craftsman lays him down to rest,
That he may greet the morrow's sun
With fresher, slumber strengthened zest.

And work and rest himself shall raise
Unto a higher, richer state,
To turn anew toward God, His praise,
And succor the unfortunate.

A life well-lived is fashioned here,
A life with joy and profit fraught;
Its round, through each success year,
Is by this simple emblem taught.



3, 5, 7, JUST NUMBERS?

By Kenny Lawtie P.M. Lodge Gordons 589

Three are the number who once reigned supreme.
At the building of the temple, King Solomon's dream.

Five are the number of noble orders named,
also to hold a Lodge, the numbers the same.

Seven, for perfect this number we need.
The arts and the sciences and music indeed!

These are not just numbers, but steps on a stair
Which we have all climbed to the middle chamber.

We each got our wages in that central place.
Where certain characters and figures the walls they did grace.

If this stirs your mind of your Fellowcraft degree,
Then you learned of that building from the same board as me.




By James F. Sullivan, PM-69

Far out beyond those misty clouds,
that veil the heavenly blue,
the Master sits within the East,
and checks on what you do.

So, as your daily tasks you do,
prosaic though they be,
the rule of plumb and square observe
for all the world to see.

For when at last your day must end,
your tools you lay away,
'twill be how well your work was done
on which he'll base your pay.

For when you rap upon that door,
and seek to enter in,
'tis only He can vouch for you,
and free you from your sin.

No ritual learned can earn that place,
o trappings, rich and rare,
'tis heart and mind and love of man
that grants you welcome there!


TIt Matters not whate'er your lot
or what your task may be
One duty there remains for you
, One duty stands for me.
Be you a doctor skilled and wise,
Or do your work for Wage,
A laborer upon the street,
An artist on the stage;
One glory still awaits for you.
one honor that is fair,
To have men say as you pass by:
" That Fellow's on the square."
Ah, here's a phrase that stands for much,
Tis good old English, too;
It means that men have confidence
In everything you do.
It means that what you have you've earned,
And that you've done your best
And when you go to sleep at night
Untroubled you may rest.
It means that conscience is your guide,
And honor is your care;
There is no greater praise than this:
" That fellow's on the square."
And when I die I would not wish
A lengthy epitaph;
I do not want a headstone large,
Carved with fulsome chaff.
Pick out no single deed of mine,
If such a deed there be,
To 'grave upon my monument,
For those who come to see.
Just this one phrase of all I choose,
To show my life was fair:
" Here sleepeth now a fellow who
was always on the square."OP