Masonic Poets Society
Table of Contents
Welcome to the pages of the Masonic Poets Society. This project was started in 1999 in Newport, Maine, USA, and the results have been heart warming. (If you would like to read more about how the web site was developed please click here.) Nearly all of this growing collection is the wisdom and emotion of living writers and our peers in the craft. The words expressed by all of these brothers seem to echo the wisdom of the ages and the tenets of Freemasonry. These sentiments are so fundamental and universal that they "belong to all men in all times and all nations". It would seem that everything you will see here is the result of an individual brother's devotion to the Masonic philosophy and teaching. I have added some "Not So Serious Stuff" for all to enjoy, as everyone knows that Masons love to laugh at themselves.
If you would like to submit a piece of work for posting on the web page please feel free!
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Hope to hear from you soon!
Jerry Leighton, c.2000
Jerry founded the MPS and is still semi-active in it, but the scope of his labors has widened as well. He is, at this writing in November 2004, serving as Deputy Grand Master to the Grand Lodge of Maine. About a year ago, another Mason with access to a webhosting service, Sandy Smith, set up a mirror site and began helping out with some of the administration of the MPS, and a few months ago Owen Lorion also joined the crew as Webmaster. Together we plan to keep the current website pretty much as is, but expect it to grow as more Masonic Poets make their works available, and more Masonic readers discover the treasure troves of Masonic wisdom, light, and entertainment on these pages.
Comments can still be sent to Jerry, but fresh submissions should be sent to that little old Webmaster, me. I can be reached at owenkl@email@example.com whenever you want to send a poem in.
Owen Lorion, 11/29/04
This website and the poems in it, unless otherwise noted or old enough to be in the public domain, are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - NonCommercial - ShareAlike 3.0 License.
Please note that all of these works are freely lent to the brethren. They may reprint or reuse them in any form that does service to the craft.
No intent is made to infringe upon any copyrights, and whenever we are made aware of it, we will ask copyright owners for permission to use them on this site, with implied permission that anything on this site may then be freely used in any form that promotes or enhances Freemasonry.
Icon bullets are used to indicate the file types or locations, thus:
The symbol of our worthy band
Of Masonic Poets on every hand
Is composed of parts known of old
(Just as poems should unfold:
Take bland words and make them sing,
Infusing them with verve and zing).
The poet's laurel, from ancient times
A symbol of the agile minds,
We take, but tilt it slighty, see,
So that it hints at letter 'G'.
Square and compasses then take
To use for Freemasonry sake.
The one inscribed inside the other
Will form the logo on our cover.
"Which in which?" you well might ask;
Deciding that is the artist's task.
We'll accept it, howe'er you will.
Poetry is flexible.
Titles come and go, and so, at least for the index pages, we will recognize that all are "on the level" by only using the title of B.·. (which you may interpret as either Brother or Bard) for each of the poets listed, except the various women represented, who will be designated S.·. (which can be interpreted however you wish). Additional titles will usually be found on the individual poem pages.
Additional thanks to RW Wayne Adams, B.·. Pat Armstrong, B.·. Rance R. Bell, Sr., B.·. Chis Christianson, B.·. Drew Grant B.·. Bill Hickey, W.·. B.·. Tony Huglin, B.·. Robert Kruseman, B.·. Mervin LeBlanc, B.·. Ellis Mills, B.·. Jim Morrison, B.·. Neil Neddermeyer, B.·. Greg Prouse, B.·. Kingsley Thompson, & W.·. B.·. David Wilford for submitting poems to us of unknown authorship or from Masonic Poets of past generations. We appreciate their support and assistance.
5/05 Newsletter #1
7/05 Proceedings #2
9/06 Proceedings #3
2/07 Proceedings #4
12/07 Proceedings #5
1/08 Proceedings #6
3/08 Proceedings #7
5/08 Proceedings #8
11/08 Proceedings #9
This is Owen writing here, and I'll use the editorial we in hopes someone will be eventually joining me with this project, but so far I've done all work on it alone.
In searching for old poems, we have discovered that already, even though the Internet is barely decades old, there are some beautifully constructed sites that have died for whatever reason, sometimes taking bits of Masonic history and poetry with them. With the help of the Internet Database, we've been able to resurrect a few of these sites and add their contents to our collection.
Eventually, all salvagable websites will be found. But then this will be just the prelude to doing the same for print chapbooks of Masonic poetry that predate the Web. Already we have the Rob Morris scan by Brother Omholt, and several smaller ones. All but one of the poems on this site by Fay Hempstead and all but one of those by Thomas Q. Ellis and all of the poems by Helen Balmer were available nowhere else on the Net. The poems by David Barker are available elsewhere, but none in as accessible a form. And you know there are plenty of others out there as well.
There are a lot of websites with Masonic Poetry, though none as extensive as the Masonic Poets Society. And a lot of standard poems crop up on large numbers of them. Many of those standards you'll find duplicated on the MPoets site as well, but certain ones you won't. Here are some of the most often cited, and why we don't have them, nor any other poems by the same authors.
Abou Ben Adhem, by James Henry Leigh Hunt (1784–1859). While Leigh Hunt associated with many Masons, and even had a Mason as a son-in-law, he was not himself one. And while this poem is an excellent exemplar of our Masonic motto of "the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God," it is not explicitly Masonic. Since Mr. Hunt's poems are widely available from other sources, we regretfully exclude him from here. However, we do have a poem here that's dedicated to Hunt!
The Bridge Builder, (frequently appearing on websites with the false title To The Builders Of The Masonic Lodge) by Will Allen Dromgoole (1860-1934). Much the same as Hunt, Miss Dromgoole (yes, despite the name, she was a she) was not a Mason, had no known contact with Masonry, and her poem is widely available elsewhere. Despite the Masonic title ascribed to it, it is still the same original poem.
The Cold Within, by James Patrick Kinney (1922-1973). Nothing particularly Masonic about this poem on the intolerance and selfishness of six people who freeze to death because they're unwilling to help each other feed a fire, and no evidence that the author was a Mason.
Desiderata by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945). What more can be said about this overused bit of Aquarian Age prose? That it's not only not specifically Masonic and not by a Mason, but also that it's not a poem. While we do have a few prose-poems of this sort on our site (Bro. Red Skelton's "Pledge Of Allegience," for example), they need to pass an even stricter test of Masonic association than normal poetry.
Each In His Own Tongue by William Herbert Carruth (1859-1924). We do have this one poem by this fine author on our site here, but only because Masonic authors have added additional verses to it. While Prof. Carruth wrote many inspirational poems which would fit with the tenor of this website, the regretable lack is that he was not a Freemason.
The Most Beautiful Flower by Cheryl Costello-Forshey, about a blind child and an old man on a park bench, is from one of the Chicken Soup books. In addition to the objections to the previous poems (woman writer with no Masonic connections, for a general audience, nothing specifically Masonic about it, widely available), this poem is under copyright, and is not allowed to be on any website without written permission!
Searcher (to give it the poet's title, although it's better known as True Brotherhood) by William Blake (1757-1827). While a beautiful short poem expressing Masonically-compatible ideals, it's not really Masonic, and Blake was not a Mason. Indeed, while there were several Masons in his circle of friends, he had an extreme distrust of governments and any sort of organizations, and a philosophy that anything requiring humility (such as an initiation ceremony) was not just wrong but evil. So despite compatible principles in most other ways, he would have been an unlikely candidate.
The Touch Of The Master's Hand by Myra Brooks Welch (1878-1959). This poem about a violin and a violinist may be in tune with Masonic principles, and even uses the Masonic term of Master, but once more it's by a woman who had no known Masonic connections, was written for (and is much appreciated by) general audiences, and is widely available.
The Old Master by Ben Steen. Indisputably a Masonic poem. Also a copyrighted work, and since Brother Steen derives some income from selling posters of his poems, he is quite rightly jealous of his copyright. His poems should not appear on any website without his express permission. He is however, gracious about giving permission if asked in advance. He offered to let us display some of his poems on this site, but with a disclaimer that they not be copied. Since providing unentailed poems for newsletters is one of the purposes of this site, we declined the offer, but will direct you to his website at http://vrpi.com.
Dutchroos Web Page
This site is maintained by a Lady Mason who is a gifted poet. It contains both her works and poems by others, and non-Masonic as well as Masonic works.
International Masonic Poetry Society
This group has no connection with us.
While it does not seem to be active at the moment, it does have a sizeable archive of Masonic poems. This URL is for their new website (Dec.2009). The old one at cwc.net and masonic-poetry.org are no longer in existance.
Masonic Poetry Through The Ages
Collected by B.·. Ray Dotson. This is a well-constructed site with a lot of fine poetry all on one page.
Smithfield (TX) Lodge #455, Poetry Preservation Project
The original well-designed site is still be available to peruse. But B.·. David Terrell created it, but it has not been maintained for some time. David revamped it as a personal project with a somewhat different layout at his personal website, but as of last I checked, that site was gone. We hope to get a new URL from him sometime.
The Music of Freemasonry
A fine collection of both sound files of, and articles about Masonic music, and included here because some sections have lyrics to songs as well.
Rockingham (VA) Union #27, Masonic Poetry and Stories
Collected by Garry Morrow(?). This hasn't been maintained for several years, so may soon be a candidate for our own preservation project.
Freemasonry Tasmania, The Poet's Corner
and Terry's Words of Wisdom
The Poet's corner features just one poem, but it changes each month. Terry's is a small collection of quotes and inspirational poetry, a mixture of both Masonic and other.
Poems Inspired by Masonry, collected by Jason A. Burkins
Powell River OES Chapter #97, BC, Canada
"Are you looking for an appropriate verse to use at your next meeting? You might find what you need right here." Many short rhymes for Eastern Star.