Table of Contents

Wilbur D. Nesbit
  1. I Sat In Lodge With You
  2. Be On Guard
  3. A Mason's Birthday
  4. April in the Blue Lodge
  5. A Day of Thanksgiving
  6. The Entered Apprentice
  7. When Are You A Mason?
  8. In Time of Dedication
  9. Good Fellowship
  10. The Christmas Lodge
  11. Corn, Wine And Oil
  12. The Good Word
  13. The Hundred Years
  14. The Men Of Tyre
  15. A Friend or Two
  16. Your Flag and My Flag
  17. A brief biography of Wilbur D. Nesbit

I Sat In Lodge With You

There is a saying filled with cheer,
Which calls a man to fellowship.
It means as much for him to hear
As lies within the brother-grip.
Nay, more! It opens wide the way
To friendliness sincere and true;
There are no strangers when you say
To me: "I sat in lodge with you."

When that is said, then I am known;
There is no questioning or doubt;
I need not walk my path alone
Nor from my fellows be shut out.
These words hold all of brotherhood
And help me face the world anew
There's something deep and rich and good
In this: "I sat in lodge with you."

Though in far lands one needs must roam,
By sea and shore and hill and plain,
Those words bring him a touch of home
And lighten tasks that seem in vain.
Men's faces are no longer strange
But seem as those he always knew
When some one brings the joyous change
With his: "I sat in lodge with you."

So you, my brother, now and then
Have often put me in your debt
By showing forth to other men
That you your friends do not forget.
When all the world seems gray and cold
And I am weary, worn and blue,
Then comes this golden thought I hold
You said: "I sat in lodge with you."

When to the last great Lodge you fare
My prayer is that I may be
One of your friends who wait you there,
Intent on your smiling face to see.
We, with the warder at the gate,
Will have a pleasant task to do;
We'll call, though you come soon or late:
"Come in! We sat in lodge with you!"

Be On Guard

Round the ancient Lodges,
Men were set on guard,
North and south and east and west,
Keeping watch and ward.
Silent, steady, sleepless,
Keen of ear and eye
On the pathway where they stood
No one might creep by.

As the covenanters
In each hidden glen
Kept a watch and ward without,
Posted earnest men
Not as shields of evil,
Be it understood:
But they knew to keep the faith
They must guard the good.

Near the ancient Lodges
None might come to see;
None might come to listen there
Save a sign gave he,
For the ancient Lodges,
As those of today,
Kept the outer creeping folk
Very far away.

But, today, each Mason
Has a duty high:
He must stand a sentinel
To all that come nigh;
He must guard Masonry,
Must protect its name
As he would his gate or door
Or a woman's name.

How, then, shall we do this?
Word and deed must bear
Evidence of what is in
Compass, plumb and square!
So that they who watch us
In the daily crowd
Shall proclaim that Masonry
Is high, and clean, and proud!

A Mason's Birthday

Today you turn another page
In Life's long book of verse and prose,
And added to your craftsman's wage
This wish of mine with friendship glows.
One day you'll reach the easy slope
Which idles down the twilight hill
Strong with the Promise and the Hope
May your days all be gladder still.

Time turns his hourglass once again;
The sands in an unceasing stream
Fall just as swiftly now, as when
Youth's sunshine held them with its gleam.
Life has its seasons, as the year
Turns softly on from day to day;
Ere we may sense it, change is here;
No hour may, save in memory, stay.

Life is at noon yet well we know
That we may live the hours agone,
That even shades of dusk may show
The glints of every olden dawn.
And you, whose birthday is a time
For us to think of all we've had
From you we send to you this rhyme
To wish you all that's good and glad.

Today you turn another page
In life's long book of verse and prose
And added to your craftsman's wage
This wish from all your Brethren goes:
That joy shine with the sun by day
And peace glow with the stars at night,
And that forever on your way
You fare beneath the one great Light.

April in the Blue Lodge

The world is in the Blue Lodge
the waking April days;
The azure sky is bending
above the blossomed ways.
The winter, tough and rugged,
has all been swept away
The world is in the Blue Lodge
with every April day.
'Tis more than any poem,
that ever yet was penned
This lesson brought with April
to you and me, my friend.
Spring waxes into summer
and autumn comes again,
But there are other Aprils
with sunniness and rain.
We see the meadows wither,
we see the flowers fade,
We see the snow come drifting
above the hill and glade;
And yet we know that April
will bring the bees and birds,
As truly as a promise
set down in age old words.
The world is in the Blue Lodge,
the rounding sky its dome;
The orchards in the breezes
now toss their blossom-foam.
The Master of good workmen
bids all the earth to say
The world is in the Blue Lodge
with every April day.

A Day of Thanksgiving

We are traveling East, my Brother,
whenever in gratefulness
We think of the things that every day brings
our lives and our homes to bless.
We are finding the path, my Brother,
though frugal may be our feast,
If the good that we knew
is the good that we do
Ah, then we are traveling East.

We are learning the Work, my Brother,
whenever, with kindly aim
We lighten the care and our plenty we share
with the poor and the halt and lame.
We are speaking the Word, my Brother,
and finding our joys increased,
When we can bring cheer
to replace a child's tear
Ah, then we are traveling East.

We are bringing the Light, my Brother,
whenever we greet a friend,
Whenever we lift a poor soul gone adrift,
or one in distress defend.
We are marking the Way, my Brother,
when through us has sorrow ceased,
When something we've said
to a lone heart has sped
Ah, then we are traveling East.

We are traveling East, my Brother,
whenever in thankful mood
We pause for a day to think and to pray,
to set forth our gratitude.
With the Word and the Work, my Brother,
through ages have never ceased
The Word that is true,
the Work we can do,
Ah, then we are traveling East.

The Entered Apprentice

They made me an Entered Apprentice;
they gave me my first degree;
They gave me a base for an honest pride,
and took some conceit from me.
I thought I should have attendants
whose station and rank were high,
That they who should give me instructions
would cater to such as I
So they made me an Entered Apprentice;
and good were the words they said;
Their speech was the speech of wisdom,
the lore of the heart and head.

And one was an humble person,
a man of the everyday,
Whom oft I had passed by proudly
on meeting him in my way.
He spoke, and my bigness dwindled,
and out of the circling sky
There seemed to come down a message
for me to be measured by.
I got me a newer learning,
an inkling of some great plan
They made me an Entered Apprentice
in the building of a man.

And one was a kindly scholar
whom many a day I'd seen,
With speech that was firm, yet gentle,
and a countenance all serene;
He taught me a wealth of learning
that never yet was in schools
And showed me the grief they garner
that walk in the way of fools.
The simple, eternal precepts
they put in my mind and heart
They made me an Entered Apprentice
and bade me to do my part.

They made me an Entered Apprentice
I was not so proud a man,
A pride that was deeper, newer,
that all meaner things must ban
Took place of the old vainglory,
and all for my soul's own good,
As dimly the patient teachings
began to be understood.
They made me an Entered Apprentice;
they gave me my first degree;
They gave me the base for a decent pride,
and took some conceit from me.

When Are You A Mason?

When are you a Mason?
When you go to Lodge
If there is a meeting
That you cannot dodge?
When you wear your button?
When still up you climb?
The way to be a Mason
Is to be one all the time.

When are you a Mason?
When there's fun and feast,
Or when you can bolster
With a word at least
Some poor devil's spirits!
The real help you give.
The way to be a Mason
Is to be one as you live.

When are you a Mason?
When some gossip spreads
Of another brother,
Are you the one who heads
Off the hurtful babble,
And helps make things right?
The way to be a Mason
Is to be one day and night.

When are you a Mason?
Brother, you and I
Can make great the Order
As the days go by,
Through each word and action,
Through each song and smile:
The way to be a Mason
Is to be one all the while!

In Time of Dedication

Now Solomon built him a temple fair,
in praise of the Lord his God,
Built with the plumb and level,
and the compass and meting rod;
And Hiram brought him his handy men
to labor in brass and wood,
And Solomon looked on their craftsmanship
and vowed that it all was good.

Pillars they set in the porchway there,
two pillars of stately grace;
Jachin and Boaz named he them,
and set them within the place;
Chapiters wrought with cunning hands,
checkering net and wreath,
With wonderful carven pomegranates,
and bases to rest beneath.

And Solomon stood at the altar then,
and lifted his hands to pray;
"Lord, let Thine eyes be toward this house,
be toward it night and day
Be with us as Thou wert of ancient times
to all our fathers known;
May all of our thoughts and words and deeds
do honor to Thee alone!"

So Solomon built him a temple then
and deep in the dust of years
Are scattered the pillars and brazen work,
but he who is faithful hears
The word that the Lord spake to Solomon,
the promise He gave him then:
"I have hallowed the house which thy men have built
to gladden the eyes of men."

Today let us pray as Solomon prayed,
that our temple may stand alway:
"Lord, let Thine eyes be toward our house,
be toward it night and day,
For it is far more than the work of our hands,
though solid and vast it seems
For part of it is our hope and faith,
and part of it is our dreams.

"And part of it is our trust in Thee,
and fairest of all this house
Is what we have held in our heart of hearts
when voicing our sacred vows.
The temple men see is all rich and strong,
and beautiful as it stands,
But over and in and through it,
is the temple not built with hands.

"So here do we pledge the grace of all
our minds and our souls have wrought,
As Hiram inspired all his handy men
with knowledge that he was taught.
The work of our hands and the work of our lives
we pledge unto Thee, and then
We trust in the strength of the pillars twain,
forever, and aye. Amen."

This poem is somewhat marginally a Masonic poem. Although it mentions a couple terms we often associate with fraternalism, "handclasp" and "brother," it could just as easily be about any friendship.

Good Fellowship

Ho, Brother, it's the handclasp
and the good word and the smile
That does the most and helps the most
to make the world worth while!
It's all of us together,
or it's only you and I
A ringing song of friendship,
and the heart beats high;
A ringing song of friendship,
and a word or two of cheer!
Then all the world is gladder
and the bending sky is clear!

It's you and I together
and we're brothers one and all
When even through good fellowship
we hear the subtle call,
Whenever in the ruck of things
we feel the helping hand
Or see the deeper glow that none
but we may understand
Then all the world is good to us
and all is worth the while;
Ho, brother, it's the handclasp
and the good word and the smile!

The Christmas Lodge

"God rest you, merry gentlemen" The tyler at the door
Is that blythe friend called Welcome, whom we knew in days of yore
The senior and the junior are Good Nature and Good Heart;
The brothers are all of the joys in which we've had a part;
We sing the olden carols and we keep the olden feast
The Christmas Lodge is opened, and Good Cheer sits in the East.

The altar glows with beauty, and we mark how proud it lifts
Its wreath of glossy holly and its plentitude of gifts;
The candle flame is golden as it was on one great night
When in the sky a wonderous star gave all the world its light
Now has the strife and struggle, the petty envy ceased;
The Christmas Lodge is opened, and Good Cheer sits in the East.

Good Cheer ruled in the tidings the laughing angels sang
What time their first great carol across the ages rang,
And with it came the magic as perfect now as then
The touch that makes us happier with hearts made young again;
Upon one joyous level now, meet all, the great and least
The Christmas Lodge is opened, and Good Cheer sits in the East.

"God rest you, merry gentlemen" it comes, a carol clear;
The grip holds newer warmth now, as the pulsing word we hear,
We find an end for sorrow and we bring a balm for pain,
We hear the children's laughter lilting through the old refrain.
We sing the olden carols and we keep the olden feast
The Christmas Lodge is opened, and Good Cheer sits in the East.

Corn, Wine And Oil

"And with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."

Matthew 7:2

Or good or bad the word or deed,
Or well or ill your chosen toil
For all of it you have your meed,
Far more than corn and wine and oil.

It shall be rendered, soon or late;
The warder of our final wage
We shall find standing at the gate,
His finger on the balanced page.
Some day, along the path of years,
Full suddenly we shall be paid
In coin of laughter or of tears
Such as our words or deeds have made.

Strange coin this warder gives to us;
The whitened hair, the palsied hand,
The lips that murmur, tremulous,
The words that none can understand
Or, he may give us from his store
The golden glow that thrills the soul
For some kind action long before:
'Tis thus the warder pays the toll.

Aye, coin he gives that is unseen,
That on its fellows does not ring;
Gives to the courtly and the mean,
Gives to the peasant and the king;
Such coin as must forever touch
The inner consciousness of men
The warder pays us just so much,
But pays, and pays, and pays again.

Or good or bad the deed or thought,
Or well or ill our chosen toil,
The wage for all that we have wrought
Is more than corn, or wine or oil.

The Good Word

Our brother aye, he is our friend;
We do not hold the right to chide,
To flout and damn, world without end,
The foibles that the past should hide.
Deep hidden in his heart of hearts,
Or maybe shining forth alone
Is the good trait. Our censure smarts
And sears till it is overthrown
Speak the good word!

Speak the good word - the word that gives
The newer impulse and the hope,
A word that helps, and grows, and lives
A Light to them that blindly grope
Through all the darkness of despair.
They know their faults, and know them well!
Of censurings they have their share
The kind words are the ones that tell:
Speak the good word!

A good word is a helping hand,
A coin that's minted of fine gold;
To read the rote of faults we've banned
May loose the eager climber's hold.
Our life is short; we cannot do
All we would have it comprehend,
But this much, truly, I and you
May do each day for this our friend
Speak the good word!

The Hundred Years

Written for the 100th Anniversary of the Grand Lodge of Michigan

"Consider the years of many generations"

Deuteronomy 32:17

So little space, this century of time
A breath, a moment, in the tale of things;
Yet in it have we builded more sublime,
More lasting, than the palaces of kings.
How have we wrought this mighty hundred years?
We caught the plumb line, level, and the square
From hands of those whose faith outweighed their fears
And gave them strength which we in turn might share.

And now the Temple of Today is fair;
Tall pillars rise in beauty, and we see
High arches that have leaped out through the air
To meet each other in all symmetry.
And yet not finished. No, not though
Like to a thing complete it proudly stands.
A finished structure we shall never know
Until we see the house not made with hands.

We have but paid in part the ancient debt
We owe to all the valiant brotherhood
Whose toil, whose dreams, whose striving and whose sweat
Earned for our lives a heritage of good.
And in this year we look far down the way,
On which betimes we faltered and we fell,
And hail the splendid men of yesterday
To cry: The task goes onward; all is well!

We lift our hands, but not to celebrate
The triumphs we have won, the trials past
We lift our hands, anew to dedicate
Our hearts and souls, as men who pray and fast.
Our hundred years! Oh, men of days agone
Who gave us Masonry without a stain,
We vow, and face the years held in the dawn,
Our lives, as yours, shall not be lived in vain!

The Men Of Tyre

Aye, the men of Tyre come forth,
stout of heart and scant of rest,
From the south and from the north,
from the east and from the west;
And the girders and the beams
form a web against the sky,
While the nagging whistle screams
of the precious hours that fly.
Then the wood and stone and steel,
each in its appointed place,
Rise until the days reveal
marvel work of strength and grace.

Ho, the brawny men of Tyre!
They have builded firm and true
For your wage and for your hire,
as the men of Tyre must do.
And the unseen things they build,
do the loyal men of Tyre
Shaping lives with fingers skilled,
bringing inspiration's fire;
Helping them that dimly grope,
leading them that falter on,
'Till upon the way of hope
they can see the blazing dawn
And the works of brotherhood
stand as temples in the lands,
And we look, and call them good
structures never built with hands.

Yes, the helpful men of Tyre,
weighing what they say and do,
For their labor ask no hire
save the thoughts of me and you.

Working while the hour glass runs
with the steady sands of time;
Laboring, the widow's sons
still pursue their task sublime.
As they built the temples then,
so they build the temple now
Build it of the lives of men,
that they may the world endow
With the grace of better things,
with the joy of better deeds;
And each at his labor sings
while his pathway upward leads.

Aye, the earnest men of Tyre!
Great the heights that they have won;
Each shall have his heart's desire
when the tale of toil is done.

This poem is hardly a Masonic poem at all, although there are mentions of "grip" and "brother," but mainly it addresses the camaraderie that develops within a group men such as we find at Lodge.

A Friend or Two

There's all of pleasure and all of peace
In a friend or two;
And all your troubles may find release
With a friend or two;
It's in the grip of the clasping hand
On native soil or in alien land,
But the world is made do you understand?
Of a friend or two.

A song to sing and a crust to share
With a friend or two;
A smile to give and a grief to bear
With a friend or two;
A road to walk and a goal to win,
An inglenook to find comfort in,
The gladdest hours that we know, begin
With a friend or two.

A little laughter; perhaps some tears
With a friend or two;
The days, the weeks, the months and years
With a friend or two;
A vale to cross, a hill to climb,
A mock at age, and a jeer at time
The prose of life takes the lilt of rhyme
With a friend or two.

The brother-sound the brother-heart
Of a friend or two
Makes us drift on from the crowd apart,
With a friend or two!
For come days happy or come days sad
We count no hours but the ones made glad
By the hale good times we ever had
With a friend or two.

Then brim the goblet and quaff the toast
To a friend or two,
For glad the man who can always boast
Of a friend or two.
The fairest sight is a friendly face,
The blithest tread is a friendly pace,
And heaven will be a better place
For a friend or two.

Probably Brother Nesbit's most famous poem, this is not a Masonic piece, but it is a patriotic and inspirational poem, and so still appropriate for inclusion in this collection.

Your Flag and My Flag

Your flag and my flag!
And how it flies today
In your land and my land
And half a world away!
Rose-red and blood-red,
The stripes forever gleam,
Snow-white and soul-white
The good forefathers' dream.
Sky-blue and true-blue,
And stars to gleam aright,
The gloried guidon of the day,
A shelter through the night!

Your flag and my flag!
To every star and stripe,
The drums beat as hearts beat
And fifers shrilly pipe!
Your flag and my flag!
A blessing in the sky;
Your hope and my hope,
It never hides a lie!
Home land and far land
And half the world around,
Old Glory hears our glad salute,
And ripples to the sound.

Your flag and my flag!
And oh! How much it holds!
Your land and my land
Secure within its folds!
Your heart and my heart
Beat quicker at the sight,
Sun-kissed and wind-tossed,
The Red and Blue and White!
The one flag the great flag
The flag for me and you
Glorified all else beside,
The Red and White and Blue!

Wilbur Dick Nesbit (1871-1927)

Wilbur D. Nesbit a 33 Mason and wrote poems and articles with Masonic themes. He was a mid-western poet who followed a newspaper career; columnist, humorist, and advertising pioneer. The son of Scottish immigrants John Harvey and Isabel (Fichthorne) Nisbit, he was born in Xenia, Ohio, September 16, 1871. He attended the public schools of Cedarville, Ohio, until 1888, then worked as a printer's devil before moving to work as a columnist. A misprint in the byline of his first published article had his name as "Nesbit" instead of "Nisbit," and he decided to keep the altered spelling for good luck. He worked for a succession of newspapers in Indiana and Chicago, and then national syndication; and his "Sermons in Song" poems appeared in many periodicals. He was perhaps best known for his poem, "Your Flag and My Flag" which was published in 1917. He composed innumerable mottoes and greeting card verses and song lyrics, including those for the successful musical comedy, "The Girl of My Dreams." He authored at least 35 books, mainly poetry, from 1903 on. Many were "greeting card" books of poetry inspirational, love poems, children's rhymes. Some were only only 8 pages with a single poem and several pages of illustrations. Others were advertising promotional booklets of less than 32 pages. But others were substantial books, with the longest just over 300 pages, Besides his own writing, he edited a book of toasts, The Loving Cup (1909), and collaborated with others. His literary work paralleled a career writing advertising copy, and enthusuastic articles about advertising as a profession. During World War I, he was midwest publicity director of the Third Liberty Loans campaign to raise funds for the war effort.

Nesbit took an active role in many clubs, civic and fraternal organizations, and was much in demand as a toastmaster and after-dinner speaker. For the Indiana Society, a congenial Chicago affiliation of prominent men of Hoosier birth and background, he compiled biographies of members in Who's Hoosier (1912) wrote and acted in the society's programs, served as its "chief justice", and as president in 1923. As a member of the society, he was associated with George Ade, the writer and actor, and John T. McCutcheon, political cartoonist of the Chicago Tribune.

Nesbit married Mary Lee (Mamie) Jenkins, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. J. H. Jenkins of Shelbyville, Indiana, in 1899. Their first son, Richard, was born in 1901, in Baltimore, and their two other sons, Robert and Wilbur, in Evanston. Nesbit died suddenly on August 20, 1927.

A collection of his papers is in the McCormick Library of Special Collections at Northwestern University, and a PDF listing of them is available at the Northwestern University Library, along with a more detailed biography.


Books by Wilbur D. Nesbit. (this list is not complete)