Table of Contents

Rudyard Kipling
  1. The Mother-Lodge
  2. The Palace
  3. Banquet Night
  4. My New-Cut Ashler
  5. The Thousandth Man
  6. If

(Move your mouse over colored
words
in poem for translation)


The Mother-Lodge

There was Rundle, Station Master,
An' Beazeley of the Rail,
An' 'Ackman, Commissariat,
An' Donkin' o' the Jail;
An' Blake, Conductor-Sargent,
Our Master twice was 'e,
With 'im that kept the Europe-shop,
Old Framjee Eduljee.

Outside — "Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!"
Inside — "Brother", an' it doesn't do no 'arm.
We met upon the Level an' we parted on the Square,
An' I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!

We'd Bola Nath, Accountant,
An' Saul the Aden Jew,
An' Din Mohammed, draughtsman
Of the Survey Office too;
There was Babu Chuckerbutty,
An' Amir Singh the Sikh,
An' Castro from the fittin'-sheds,
The Roman Catholick!

We 'adn't good regalia,
An' our Lodge was old an' bare,
But we knew the Ancient Landmarks,
An' we kep' 'em to a hair;
An' lookin' on it backwards
It often strikes me thus,
There ain't such things as infidels,
Excep', per'aps, it's us.

For monthly, after Labour,
We'd all sit down and smoke
(We dursn't give no banquits,
Lest a Brother's caste were broke),
An' man on man got talkin'
Religion an' the rest,
An' every man comparin'
Of the God 'e knew the best.

So man on man got talkin',
An' not a Brother stirred
Till mornin' waked the parrots
An' that dam' brain-fever-bird;
We'd say 'twas 'ighly curious,
An' we'd all ride 'ome to bed,
With Mo'ammed, God, an' Shiva
Changin' pickets in our 'ead.

Full oft on Guv'ment service
This rovin' foot 'ath pressed,
An' bore fraternal greetin's
To the Lodges east an' west,
Accordin' as commanded
From Kohat to Singapore,
But I wish that I might see them
In my Mother-Lodge once more!

I wish that I might see them,
My Brethren black an' brown,
With the trichies smellin' pleasant
An' the hog-darn passin' down;
An' the old khansamah snorin'
On the bottle-khana floor,
Like a Master in good standing
With my Mother-Lodge once more!

Outside — "Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!"
Inside — "Brother", an' it doesn't do no 'arm.
We met upon the Level an' we parted on the Square,
An' I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!

This poem is sometimes entitled "The Temple"


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 on 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, slaked it, and spread;
Taking and leaving at pleasure
the gifts of the humble dead.

Yet I despised not nor 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."

Banquet Night

"Once in so often," King Solomon said,
Watching his quarrymen drill the stone,
"We will curb our garlic and wine and bread
And banquet together beneath my Throne,
And all Brethren shall come to that mess
As Fellow — Craftsmen-no more and no less."

"Send a swift shallop to Hiram of Tyre,
Felling and floating our beautiful trees,
Say that the Brethren and I desire
Talk with our Brethren who use the seas.
And we shall be happy to meet them at mess
As Fellow-Craftsmen — no more and no less."

"Carry this message to Hiram Abif —
Excellent master of forge and mine —
I and the Brethren would like it if
He and the Brethren will come to dine
(Garments from Bozrah or morning-dress)
As Fellow-Craftsmen — no more and no less."

"God gave the Cedar their place —
Also the Bramble, the Fig and the Thorn —
But that is no reason to black a man's face
Because he is not what he hasn't been born.
And, as touching the Temple, I hold and profess
We are Fellow-Craftsmen — no more and no less."

So it was ordered and so it was done,
And the hewers of wood and the Masons of Mark,
With foc'sle hands of Sidon run
And Navy Lords from the ROYAL ARK,
Came and sat down and were merry at mess
As Fellow-Craftsmen — no more and no less.

The Quarries are hotter than Hiram's forge,
No one is safe from the dog-whip's reach.
It's mostly snowing up Lebanon gorge,
And it's always blowing off Joppa beach;

But once in so often, the messenger brings
Solomon's mandate: "Forget these things!
Brother to Beggars and Fellow to Kings,
Companion of Princes — forget these things!
Fellow-Craftsmen, forget these things!"

My New-Cut Ashler

Also titled as L'Envoi to "Life's Handicap".

My new-cut ashlar takes the light
Where crimson-blank the windows flare.
By my own work before the night,
Great Overseer, I make my prayer.

If there be good in that I wrought
Thy Hand compelled it, Master, Thine —
Where I have failed to meet Thy Thought
I know, through Thee, the blame was mine.

The depth and dream of my desire,
The bitter paths wherein I stray —
Thou knowest Who hast made the Fire,
Thou knowest Who hast made the Clay.

Who, lest all thought of Eden fade,
Bring'st Eden to the craftsman's brain —
Godlike to muse o'er his own Trade
And manlike stand with God again!

One stone the more swings into place
In that dread Temple of Thy worth.
It is enough that, through Thy Grace,
I saw nought common on Thy Earth.

Take not that vision from my ken —
Oh whatsoe'er may spoil or speed.
Help me to need no aid from men
That I may help such men as need!

The Thousandth Man

One man in a thousand, Solomon says,
Will stick more close than a brother.
And it's worth while seeking him half your days
If you find him before the other.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine depend
On what the world sees in you,
But the Thousandth man will stand your friend
With the whole round world agin' you.

'Tis neither promise nor prayer nor show
Will settle the finding for 'ee.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of 'em go
By your looks, or your acts, or your glory.
But if he finds you and you find him.
The rest of the world don't matter;
For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim
With you in any water.

You can use his purse with no more talk
Than he uses yours for his spendings,
And laugh and meet in your daily walk
As though there had been no lendings.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of 'em call
For silver and gold in their dealings;
But the Thousandth Man he's worth 'em all,
Because you can show him your feelings.

His wrong's your wrong, and his right's your right,
In season or out of season.
Stand up and back it in all men's sight —
With that for your only reason!
Nine hundred and ninety-nine can't bide
The shame or mocking or laughter,
But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side
To the gallows-foot — and after!

Although not specifically Masonic, this poem is perhaps Kipling's best-known inspirational poem, and a parallel to another one in our collection by Francis Lester, written a few years later.

If


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings — nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run —
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And — which is more — you'll be a Man my son!

1910