|Table of Contents|
Another seven weeks have rolled around (plus a couple sorry about that) and it's time for another issue of the Proceedings. We hope you are all getting these, because the past two issues have produced zero feedback. Please take a minute to send Owen an e-letter just to let him know you received it. We are still an elite group of only about 50 members, so even if every one of you sent a message, it wouldn't flood his inbox that much.
If you're reading this on the Web, we hope you enjoy the rebus at the top of this page. (It's a commonly used Masonic phrase). It's just one of several innovations on the website this se'nweek. We now have three separate index pages, for Authors, Titles, and First Lines (most poems are in either Titles or First Lines so far, very few are in both). And each one is topped by a search box and a change notification box. The search box is from Yahoo, and is a standard item we're sure you're all familiar with. The change box is something that may be new to you, though. The first time you use it, it will cause a pop-up window, asking for your sign-in. You'll need to register and tell it what eddress you want to have the notifications sent to. But once you've done that, you can give it any pages you want, anywhere on the Web, and they'll send you a notice whenever the page changes! (At least, that's the theory. We have to admit that we haven't had it up long enough to have done more than add our three index pages to their public directory. They say it takes about a week to go through all the pages they keep track of, and get back to the start again.)
We still need help. Someone to assemble a proper Links page for the website. A Publicity officer, to let people know that we exist, and get websites to change their links to our current URL instead of the obsolete one to Jerry Leighton's site (which has been taken down). An editor for the Proceedings who's better at keeping it on schedule than Owen is. And we may soon have an opening for our own Forum administrator. If you are willing to take on any of these posts, please let us know.
The following policies may be controversial. We've had an opinion expressed that the poems and poets listed here should be included on our site. Please let us know how you feel about the matter.
A lot of standard poems crop up on large numbers of Masonic websites. 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.
Abou Ben Adhem, by James Henry Leigh Hunt (17841859). 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 (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 know 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.
There are some new books on the website. In fact, a whole bunch of new books! We've begun collecting old Masonic Song Books or Hymnals, to present the song lyrics as poetry. While there is a lot of overlap, we have added over 400 distinct new poems from this source, most of them of high quality.
Not being originally designed as poetry books, (although many of the lyrics were probably written as poems first, and only had music added to them later), there are two great lacks with many of these. First, a horrible omission for a poet who depends on his writing for his immortality, the authors were seldom listed. And what may seem even stranger, there were often no titles; or titles were given as simply "Opening" or "Closing". Because of that, there was no way to include them in our established title index, so a separate index of first lines was set up for them. This allows a better cross-reference between songs that appear in more than one book, possibly a quarter of the total number of songs. Titles, being more arbitrary, would be less reliable for this purpose.
While a couple of these were typed in by hand, most were copied from the photoscanned files at Google Books. Using the Optical Character Reading function of Google Books gave a shortcut that allowed so many books to be added in such a short time, but it was not always as simple as that. To begin with, the books had to copied out page by page. A PDF download was available, but it didn't include a text feature, so there was no way of copying anything in it, or even looking anything up in it that way. Then, OCRs are often less than perfect, and don't include any formatting except line breaks. So the text was generally riddled with typographical errors, and still had to be laboriously proofread and formatted into HTML. Here are the books we've added this se'nweek:
Since these are presented as poetry, music has been omitted, though when possible we have included a link to help researchers find the music if they need to. Also, some of these are complete Masonic Monitors, but we've generally just extracted the poetic parts. (With a few we have include funeral rituals or lists of toasts as well).
The last book on this list, MSA: Masonic Poems, is not a songbook, but rather a collection of poetry compiled by the Secretary of the Masonic Service Association, and published as part of their "Little Masonic Library" collection, long out of print. About 40 of the 93 poems in this volume were already in our collection, and a few other poets were added to our collection because of poems they had in this book (Neal A. McAulay, L.B. Mitchell, also now identified as L.B.M., Roe Fulkerson, and expanded Harry L. Haywood).
There haven't been many newly written poems added to the site this past se'nweek, but we'll start with one that has, from Brother Lester Morrow, The Light I Waited For, and follow it up with two from the old songbooks on the same theme, Entered The Light by Brother Frank H. Sellery and The Light Within by Brother T. E. Garrett. Then, a segue to a "lighter" vein, Lightly O'er The Village Green, and finishing up with one by your humble editor, prompted by an off-topic thread in a Masonic forum on Irregardless. While it was written in 2008, it deals with events from 1825. To get it back into a Masonic groove, let it be pointed out that DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828) was Grand Master of Masons in New York, as well as Governor of the state.
Bard Owen Lorion,
on behalf of the Masonic Poets Society