Table of Contents

Harriet Annie Wilkins
  1. On Laying The Corner Stone Of The Masonic Hall
  2. Legend Of Strasbourg Cathedral
  3. The Burden Of Dumah
  4. The Evening Message (Brother, The Sun Has Set)
  5. On A Picture (Of The Lodge Of Perfect Friendship)
  6. On The Mountain Top
  7. Our Father's Grave
  8. On The Burial Of A Member Of The Order Of Odd-Fellows
  9. Requiescat
  10. Funeral Of Captain Malcolmson
  11. An Apostrophe Over The Grave Of Brant
  12. Feeble Builders
  13. Festival Of St. John The Baptist
  14. Charge To The Knight Of Malta
  15. Adoniram: A Legend of the Temple
  16. Our Poor Brethren
  17. Initiation Ode
  18. Installation Ode
  19. Buried With Music
  20. Our Cottage Walls
  21. The Interment Of Florizel
  22. The Poet's Evening Prayer
  23. The Dying Stranger
  24. The Officer's Farewell
  25. Waiting For The Bell To Ring

  26. Poetess of HamiltonLorion
    from Canadian BiographyGreenfield
    Preface to Wayside FlowersStephenson
    Pan from Canadian MonthlyWhite
Rose Buds
Autumn Leaves
The Acacia (1st Edition)
Wayside Flowers
Victor Roy: A Masonic Poem

On Laying The Corner Stone Of The Masonic Hall

Hamilton, Ont., July 1st, 1873.

Mighty Architect, to Thee
Humbly now we make our plea;
Sun and star and boundless space
Cannot veil Thy radiant face;
Thine undimmed, All-seeing Eye,
Can their every work descry,
Who would now, with ancient rite,
Build to honour, truth and might.

As the walls progressive rise
Midway 'twixt the earth and skies,
Save from harm, and wound, and fear,
All whose handicraft is here:
Give the builders skill to hew
Every stone and timber true
Let our building, firm and fair,
Grow by level, plumb and square.

When within the walls complete
Moves the tread of Masons' feet,
Send Thy Spirit here to brood,
Polish every ashlar rude;
Here may plans of love be brought,
Here may deeds of love be wrought
Give us, ere our labours cease,
Visions of Thy Lodge of Peace.

When the weary traveller turns
Where the fire of friendship burns,
Wheresoe'er his home may be
Southern sky or northern sea
Fainting with his journey o'er
Life's strange tesselated floor,
Here, by love's sweet influence blest,
Give our weary brother rest.

When, 0 Father, pure and good,
One of our loved brotherhood,
In some dark and trying hour,
Yieldeth to temptation's power
When he mourns here, sin's sad blot,
(For who lives and sinneth not?)
Draw the poison from his soul
Make our sin-sick brother whole.

Holy Father, when we meet
Here, to march with mournful feet,
Where a sleeping brother lies,
With pale hands and fast-closed eyes;
When our future hopes are seen,
In the fadeless evergreen,
Stand with us beside the bier,
Blest Unseen, yet ever near.

Give the pilgrims holy light,
Guide them through the darkest night;
Give Thy soldiers power to keep
Watch and ward until they sleep;
Give Thy craftsmen skill to build
Arch and tower with beauty filled,
And in each emergency,
Turn their eyes alone to Thee.

And at length when Time's scythe falls
Upon us who rear these walls,
May we, through Death's vale of strife,
Find the road to endless life;
Here, so learn each mystic sign
Here, so work each rule of Thine,
That the Angel Wardens may
Pass us to Eternal Day.

Wayside Flowers, pp.16-18

Legend Of Strasbourg Cathedral

Out on the quiet midnight air,
The thrilling summons swells,
As on the eve of loved St. John,
Peal out the solemn bells;
A city unawakened lies
Beneath the mournful sound,
Down street and avenue and lane,
A silence reigns profound.

But up from vault and mouldering crypt
Arise a silent band,
Once the true builders of that pile,
The guardians of their land;
And silently each takes his place;
Masters, well robed, are there
Craftsmen, Apprentices, and each
With gavel, compass, square.

Then the old Masons meet again,
Where once their work was known,
Where in sweet music petrified,
Stands each well-chiselled stone:
With silent presages of love
Each doth his brother cheer:
Time-honoured salutations pass
Among Companions dear.

Then on the weird procession moves,
Through the dim lighted nave,
Adown the long and columned aisles,
Where mystic banners wave.
Over the gleaming marble floor,
Past the old Knights that keep
Their watch and ward with cross and sword,
The shadowy Masons sweep.

But near the spire, one female form
Floats, white-robed, pale and cold,
Mallet and chisel, damp with age,
Her slender fingers hold.
Loved daughter of the Master, she
Aided each heavy task;
Beside her father, morn and eve,
No respite did she ask.

Bread for the hungry Craftsmen, she
Duly prepared and wrought,
And words of Faith, and Hope, and Love
She to the workmen brought.
Thirsting, she cooled their parching lips;
Wearied, she heard their sighs;
Fevered, she fanned their throbbing brows;
Dying, she closed their eyes.

Ghost-like and pale, the once strong men
Glide over each known spot,
And from the memories of the past,
Awaken scenes forgot.
No mortal being hath caught the sound,
Or grasped the palsied hand,
Of they who thus fraternally
Sweep round each column grand.

Thrice round the olden building, then
They take their mystic way;
"Happy to meet," they converse hold,
Till the first dawn of day.
Then down in each sepulchral bed,
The Masons take their rest,
Till next St. John's loud midnight bell,
Stirs through each phantom breast.

This is the legend; but far down
A solemn lesson lies
For all who would their work should stand
Before the Master's eyes:
A voice from Heaven strews words of hope
Round grave, and vault, and sea,
"From labours freed, their works remain;
They did it unto me."

Wayside Flowers, pp.25-27;
also Autumn Leaves, pp.30-33.

The Burden Of Dumah

"The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come." Isaiah 21:11-12, KJV.

"What of the night, Watchman?"
"Clouds in the West
Roll, where the moon set long hours ago;
There are strange mutterings of thunder abroad,
Sighs from the pines, from the sea, tones of woe;
Shudder not pilgrim, for, out of the dark,
Groweth the blushing and life-giving morn;
Out of the thunder and lightning and rain,
Fairest creations of Nature are born.
March in the company, slowly progressing;
Keep white your garments, the cross on each breast;
Strangers may brand you as 'wanderers' and 'ghosts,'
They see you not plainly, there's clouds in the West."

"What of the night, Watchman?"
"Cold in the North,
Chilly the winds o'er the toiling ones blow
Thousands of strong arms are steadily rearing
Jerusalem's walls in the valley below.
When, through the darkness, a ray lights the scene
Lamplight and starlight strange sights oft reveal,
Soldiers with trestle boards close by their side,
Masons at work under arches of steel.
Toil on, brother Craftsmen, build up in the dark,
Light from the sun will ere long glimmer forth,
Foes will succumb, and your works shall remain,
But tonight, just tonight, it is cold in the North."

"What of the night, Watchman?"
"Dark in the South,
The birds are all hushed in each still lonely nest,
The flowers, thy flowers, are all damp with the dew,
Unheeding thy love, on their mother's cold breast;
Weep not, fair questioner, morn shall arise,
Songs robed in tropical plumage shall wake;
The flowers, thy flowers, are safe and at peace,
Till Light in the East o'er the mountains shall break;
Thy flowers are living, thou seest them not
Call hope to thine eyes and smiles to thy mouth,
Thy beloved at morn to this garden will come,
But now it is midnight, all dark in the South."

"What of the night, Watchman?"
"Light in the East,
But only reflected are these early rays;
Be watchful, for dim and uncertain as yet
Are forms which shall shine for the Ancient of Days;
Only as trees walking look living men,
Things that are grim in the desolate night,
Soon shall their beautiful garments put on,
While you are working steady for God and the right.
Pilgrim, there's rest for thy wearisome pains,
Mason and Templar, your toils shall have ceased.
Mourner, thy love Immortality wins,
Work, Watch and Pray, there is Light in the East."

Wayside Flowers, pp.43-45

The Evening Message

"Leontius Patricius, Bishop of Cyprus, was one day unreasonably angry with John, the Patriarch of Alexandria. At even the latter sent a servant with this message: 'Brother, the sun has set.' Reconciliation followed." The Craftsman.

Over earth the eve's dark mantle
Is coming slowly on;
Foot of labourer, sound of hammer,
With the bright day are gone.
Soon the first pale star of evening
Shall with its friend have met;
My friend, the day is dying slowly
"Brother, the sun has set."

Held I not the lamp of warning
Amid the tempest's wrath?
Sought I not, in love fraternal,
To guide thee in thy path?
Ah! companion, for thee yearning,
Mine eyes with tears are wet;
I am weary for thee watching
"Brother, the sun has set."

If I have erred unconsciously,
Forgive me, oh forgive!
By the Lodge where we assemble,
The lite we're sworn to live;
Where the tyler guards the portal,
Have we not often met?
We are bound by bonds mysterious
"Brother, the sun has set."

By the God who dwells above us,
Draw out the rankling thorn;
By the Christ who came to love us,
Arise in peace next morn!
Let not darkness stamp its signet
On our spirits yet;
Light within our soul prevaileth
"Brother, the sun has set."

Soon the solemn hour is coming,
When shield and sword must fall,
And we, dying in the battle,
Must meet the Lord of all.
Let us live that o'er our memory
Falls no dark regret;
Let us live as Christ's dear children
"Brother, the sun has set."

And in years long yet to number,
It may be, some stray soul
Shall hear of this our charity,
And he may send a scroll
To some companion grown estranged,
That scroll with Love's tears wet;
And the mysterious words shall be
"Brother, the sun has set."

Wayside Flowers, pp.73-74

On A Picture

It lies before me, pillar, wall,
The portrait of that ancient hall;
I see the moon and stars on high,
The rays of that All-seeing Eye,
The figures of those glorious three
Faith, Hope, and Heaven-born Charity;
The tesselated floor, the Square,
The Bible, Compass, each is there.

I know that once there proudly stood
A love-united brotherhood
That there were kindred hopes and fears,
Softened by kindred love and tears
That generous heart, and trusty hand,
Waited the Master's high command,
Where, amid jewels richly set,
The Lodge of "Perfect Friendship" met.

I do not know if in those walls,
The tone of love still gently falls,
Or if beneath the Holy Arch
A band of weary pilgrims march,
Or beaming lamps give out their light
Upon each installation night,
While men, amid their blazonry,
Work out the rules of Masonry.

I know that of that elder band,
Some have attained the better land,
And changed the glories of that shore
For pilgrim garb and chequered floor;
That for the rough, uneven stone,
They see the glowing jasper throne;
And for the Templar's battling strife,
They rest beneath the "Tree of Life."

Oh! "Perfect Friendship," art thou found
On any spot of earthly ground?
Tell me, ye devotees of Love,
If earth below is Heaven above?
Though heavenly flowers round ye twine,
As ye are bending 'fore that shrine,
Ye breathe upon it as ye bow,
Ye crush the flowers as ye go.

Hope on! the deathless day shall spring,
And builders hail their loving King;
How many a Judas shall be sent
Forth in the captive's banishment;
How many a gem unnoticed here,
Shall glitter in that starry sphere,
Where, round the Lamb and Elders' seat,
The Lodge of "Perfect Friendship" meet?

Wayside Flowers, pp.111-113

On The Mountain Top

Whence come these pilgrims toiling on?
Up, upward still they go,
Till half a league at length they reach,
Above the ocean's flow.
Upon the granite rock they group,
Around their altar stand,
As with the signs of Masonry,
They clasp each other's hand.

Above, the blue, unfettered sky;
Two thousand feet below,
The city with its human hearts,
Chequered with joy and woe.
Above, the glorious light of day,
The graceful cloudlets roll,
And the glories of that other Light
Lit up each Mason's soul.

Out to the rustling summer wind,
A snow-white flag they throw,
And the peasant heard the brethren cheer
In the valley far below.
The glittering spires flashed and danced
Like lightning in the blast,
While rolling as a silver flood,
The rushing tide swept past.

What gained you by that bold ascent,
Men of the Mystic Craft?
You learnt that the Grand Architect
Needs not our beam or shaft.
That borderings of "pure lily work"
Wreathe where man never trod;
Beauty and strength dwell in His house,
The Universe of God.

Was your Inner Guard that boulder vast,
Cradled by thunder shock?
Did you set a Tyler at the door
Of that unyielding rock?
Missed you the wonted garniture,
As in that Lodge-room fair,
Three hundred to your Order true,
Bowed solemnly in prayer?

What gained you by that bold ascent,
To the eagle's native clime?
Carved in the everlasting hills,
Traced you the hand of time?
You looked above in wondering awe,
At Nature's treasures rare;
You looked below with warmer pulse,
For hearts you love beat there.

Did not your spirit soar on high,
Toward the pure sky above?
Did ye not drink a deeper draught,
From springs of deathless love?
Did Faith, and Hope, and Charity,
Speak of their height and breadth,
Swept by no thoughts that bore you past
The floods of time and death?

The sun sinks in the glowing West,
As down the mountain slope
The festive bands now take their way,
With words of cheer and hope.
Each bore a scrap of granite rough,
A relic of the day
When Nevada sent three hundred sons
On her mountain top to pray.

Wayside Flowers, pp.124-126

Our Father's Grave

Sleep in peace, for dreary years
Love has drenched thy grave with tears;
Resting in a tomb alone,
In a land almost unknown,
They who once broad lands could trace
Only claim a burying place;
Abraham-like, 'mid sons of Heth
Deeds of land are sealed with death;
Willow branches o'er thee wave,
Father, in thy quiet grave.

Far away on England's shore,
Where the tides of Severn roar,
Towards the firmament's blue woof
Grows a consecrated roof;
Holy walls our Father built,
With the light of morn are gilt,
And his Son's name, carved on high,
Meets the traveller passing by,
Though the father and the son
Their earth-wearied race have run.

Never to the Holy Rock,
Truer shepherd led his flock;
Scoffers hushed the impious word
When his pleading voice was heard;
And the midnight robber stayed
From his deeds of blood, and prayed;
And they say his name is now
Breathed with tears and blessings low;
For they wept, who could not save
One who fills a pastor's grave.

Widows dried the falling tear
When they heard his footstep near;
Orphans in his pathway bent
For his blessing as he went;
For his lamp shed holy light,
Heaven-born love and honour bright,
Strove to rule, with earnest prayer,
Every action by the square;
Holy deeds their incense wave
Round a well-tried Mason's grave.

Clouds were near the setting sun,
When the ship its race had run;
Ah! affection, wild and free,
Might have been idolatry,
And, in unforgiving woe,
Said, "I will not let thee go;"
Had not love's attentive ear
Caught the storm-cloud mutt'ring near
Heard, with thunder in its train,
"Sounds of an abundant rain."

Father! thou in light dost dwell
They for whom thy last tears fell,
Still the widow's grief must share,
Still the orphan's lot must bear;
But One, who appointed thee,
Counsellor and friend to be,
Thine own best beloved will keep
Till, like thee, we fall asleep
Thine will guard through every blast
Till we meet with thee at last.

Wayside Flowers, pp.140-142;
also The Acacia, pp.99-102.

On The Burial Of A Member Of The Order Of Odd-Fellows

There gathered a throng of the bold, the brave;
They stood around a Brother's open grave;
Such were the words their leader said,
As they sadly bent o'er the sleeping dead:

"Brother! round thy home, thy hearth,
Desolation spreads its dearth;
When the evening birds rejoice,
They thou lov'st will miss thy voice;
Wife, and sisters, bright eyed sons,
They, the lone, and weeping ones;
They, the loving, and the fair,
Brother, they will miss thee there!

"Brother! when yon manly throng
Raise the hymn and swell the song;
When they strike each full-toned string,
To the lay they're wont to sing;
Will they miss one swelling tone?
Will they think of one that's gone?
In the hallowed house of prayer,
Brother, they will miss thee there.

"Brother! we have laid this night
Thee beneath the mountain's height;
We have stood beside thy grave,
We have wept, who could not save.
Shall the world mark us with scorn?
Brother, it is thee we've borne.
Shall the stranger mock the tear?
Brother, we have touched thy bier.

"By the vows that passed the night
Of thy new inaugural rite;
By our own, our hallowed sign,
By the love that still is thine;
By the heart and by the hand,
Of our own beloved band;
By the tears which bright eyes shower,
Brother, we are here this hour.

"Shall we wait thy coming feet,
When our noble Lodge shall meet;
Shall we stay to hear them fall;
Shall we wait our Brother's call?
No! for thou art far away,
From the world, and with the clay;
And may we who still remain,
Stand prepared for Death's last pain,

"When the sun and moon are fled,
And the graves shall yield their dead;
When the mystic spell is broken,
Of the secret softly spoken;
When the chariots fill the air,
Brother, may we meet thee there!
When the earth's firm walls are riven,
Brother, may we meet in Heaven!"

And the voice was hushed on the zephyr's breath,
That band stole away from the vault of Death;
For the clods fell heavily on his breast,
And they left their Brother to take his rest.

Wayside Flowers, pp.152-154


On the death of Richard H. Murton, Esq.

From the couch of mortal sickness,
From the bed of pain,
A mother in her sorrow
Weeps her sad refrain;
And far across the breakers,
And the sea-gull's track,
Soothing strains are answering
That mother back.

"Far o'er the wide blue ocean,
Underneath sunny skies,
Far from his home and country
My darling lies."

"Yes, but loving hands have press'd
Sods upon that manly breast,
Holy words around his bier,
Solemn rite and heartfelt tear.
We have given the earthly sod,
Precious dust to keep for God
Buried as he fain would be,
With the rites of Masonry

"Ah! but there stood no brother,
Around that dying bed;
No sister, no gentle mother,
Pillowed that head."

"No, but faithful hearts and true,
Watched the pilgrim's journey through,
Gathered round the dying bed,
Pillowed the poor throbbing head,
Cooled the burning lip and brow,
Listened to each whisper low,
Heard the splash of Death's cold wave,
Wept who found they could not save

"Oh! but the weary longing
For one more loved embrace,
Oh! for one look of perfect peace
From that sweet face."

"Mother, hast thou not him given
To our Father in the heaven?
Doth He fling such jewels back
On Destruction's midnight track?
Did'st thou not show thy child's feet
Where to find the mercy seat?
So that out of darkest night
He would reach the road to Light?

"Far o'er the wide blue ocean,
Still kind friends watch o'er him,
Soon, Oh Father in the heavens,
To me restore him."

"O'er the precious lonely grave,
Stone shall rise and green branch wave;
And though mighty waters rise,
'Twixt his tomb and native skies,
One who could not love him less
Than with mother's tenderness,
Thy beloved dust will keep,
Till the morning call from sleep

Wayside Flowers, pp.163-165

Funeral Of Captain Malcolmson

Written by request.

Slowly 'neath the bending boughs
Pass a train of men,
And they bear a sleeping form,
Gone from human ken;
They bring a loved companion to his home
A brother to his quiet couch has come.

Oh, yes, it had been their wont
To meet that pulseless hand,
Giving friendship's trusty grasp,
Loved one of their band;
Now with steps fashioned to a funeral march,
They bring him 'neath the summer tree's green arch.

He had gone forth in health,
And life in all his veins;
Brought home, ah! all too still,
Bound in unbroken chains.
How could death lurk beneath the quiet wave,
And sunlight gild the doorway to a grave?

Oh! hearts sad but resigned,
Stand round that sacred dust,
And give its Maker back
Their holy, precious trust;
The resurrection morning's rainbow arch
Hangs o'er the shadowy path they sadly march.

Will not those eyes which weep,
Miss the warm, gen'rous heart
That in kind deeds of love
Hath ever borne its part?
Hark! for a sad refrain floats on the air,
Where saddened mourners breathe a farewell prayer.

"Brother, thou wert one with us,
Why then taken from us thus?
Pilgrim, could thy task he done,
Why at noon goes down thy sun?
Ah! we may not question why;
He who ruleth earth and sky,
Counts each death-splash of the sea
He, the Master, calleth thee.

"Sleeper, we have met before,
Where the tyler guards the door;
We have given the well-known sign
That hath blent our souls with thine.
Now, tonight thou giv'st no word
Back to our souls' deep stirred;
For the Angel tylers wait
At thy Lodge-room's mystic gate.

"Brother, thou art taking rest;
We must still the wild storm breast.
We build on through storm and might,
Thou hast seen the quenchless light;
While we hew the shapeless stone,
Thou hast bowed before the Throne;
While we tread the chequered floor,
Thou hast passed the mystic door.

"Oh! companion, were we there,
Ended every pleading prayer,
Ended all the work and toil,
Gathered all the fruit and spoil,
Finished all the war and sin,
At the golden gate passed in
Brother, once again with thee,
What would our first greeting be?

"Loved companion, we have given,
To the guardianship of Heaven,
Our brother's precious dust:
And, in memory of the just,
Be it ours still to guard
All he loved with watch and ward,
Till, like him, we gain the shore
Where these sorrows come no more."

Wayside Flowers, pp.201-203

An Apostrophe Over The Grave Of Brant

Supposed to be spoken by Sir A. N. Macnab, P. G. Master of the fraternity of Freemasons.

On to the burial, brethren,
Follow your master's call,
And to the mausoleum
Gather ye one and all;
Gird on your emblems, brethren,
Emblems of truth and might
Might that will fail us never,
And truth that knows no night.

On to the burial, brethren,
A Mason resteth there,
But not your loudest footsteps
The lifeless form shall stir;
On with the brave dead, brethren,
Calmly the ashes rest;
But the spirit is with us, brethren,
And with the holy blest.
On with the brave dead, brethren,
Peace! let no sound be heard;
Pause! minute gun and sounding bell,
Let our farewell be heard.

Brother, our Indian Brother, we're bending o'er thee low,
But thou can'st not hear our murmurs, nor mark our heart's throb now;
Yet thy spirit may be hov'ring near, for we know our Father sends
His messengers of mercy from the glory which transcends.
But we're thinking now of what thou wert when thy feet with ours trod,
Ere yet thy time-worn spirit pass'd to the presence of its God.

And, Brother, what wert thou in strife when the trumpet peal'd from far,
And the Pale Horse for his legions came who fell in fearful war?
Some false hearts quailed and turned away to bear a coward's name,
Too timid to abide the storm or share a warrior's fame;
But some were true I fought with thee through many a hostile crowd,
Lo! we've met again today, Brother, but thou art in thy shroud.

And, Brother, what wert thou in peace, ah! let that sounding bell,
That strikes through every brother's heart its thrilling answer tell;
'Twas thou who rear'd'st yon hallowed dome, whose voice in prayerful tone
Reached to the high Eternal One, and circled round the throne,
When human eyes beheld thee not, as in earnest accents mild,
Thou wert pleading for thy kindred of the unshorn forest wild.

And, Brother, Brother, what wert thou in the wondrous history
That wraps thee from the world at large in solemn mystery?
Let us who spanned the arch with thee, who at one altar bent,
Who saw the holy light from far to our dark pathway lent,
Let us repeat thy generous deeds, tell of thy truth and love,
Till we greet thee blest, and perfect, in a better land above.

A change has come upon thy land since we spake together, Chief,
And tall domes rise and firm walls stand where waved the maple leaf?
And the waters of the bay, Chief, where shot thine own canoe,
Are torn with splashing iron wheels and bear rich treasures through;
But the hearts of those who love thee, oh! have they likewise changed,
And from Britain's glorious banner have they become estranged?
Oh! no, but some have met thee, Brant, though a few yet track life's sea,
And one must say this requiem o'er thy noble son and thee.

But farewell, Indian Brother, we must bid thee one adieu,
There are yet more woes for us to bear, more sorrows to go through;
But we've taught the world today, Chief, that the red man of the wild
And the white man of the palace are alike Heaven's favoured child;
And we've taught them that there is a spell which is not broke by death,
A meek yet mighty influence that passes not as breath;
The stars may fail, the moon may die, the sun be veiled above,
But still remains as o'er thee now, Brother, the chain of love.

Back, back, the crowd retires,
Hushed is the minute gun,
And the dead remain in silence,
The father and the son;
But Canada will chronicle,
Among her deeds of right,
The acts of justice done this day,
Beneath the sun's pure light;
And when her loyal spirits faint,
Some traitor's plea to grant,
Then send her sons to kneel beside
The burial place of Brant.

Wayside Flowers, pp.208-212

Feeble Builders

"There be four things that be little upon the earth, yet be they exceeding wise... the conies are a feeble folk, yet they build their houses in the rocks." Proverbs 30:24,26.

Feeble folk, to dare a dwelling,
Up among the mighty mounts,
Feeding in the springing herbage,
Drinking of the sparkling founts,
And have we no little army,
That the mightier builder mocks,
Yes, we boast our feeble builders,
Building houses in the rocks.

Not our world famed Ctesiphons,
Architects, a skilful horde,
Not our glorious Solomons,
Mighty builders to the Lord;
By the bedside of the dying,
Where affliction loudly knocks,
We have found our feeble builders,
Building houses in the rocks.

Up the by-lanes, in the alleys,
Crouching from the biting cold,
From the mountains, from the valleys,
From the slave ship's crowded hold,
From the cells of many a prison,
Bound no more by bars and locks,
Souls have risen pure and stainless,
To their dwellings in the rocks.

Gentle girls have trod with meekness,
Up life's rough and rugged path,
Loving women bore with patience,
Trouble's drenching storm of wrath
Kings have cast aside their jewels,
Heroes knelt with bay-crowned locks;
Owning that they were but feeble
Builders in the once cleft rocks.

Ah! the world's slaves boast of riches,
Hug their gold and prize their land,
Keep a hundred workmen busy,
Building houses in the sand;
In their hurry trampling down
Widows, orphans, beggars, all
That would dare impede the progress
Of each gilded sandstone hall.

Master Builder, look upon us,
Give us skill to build to Thee,
Every arch and pillar moulded,
Unto Heaven's true symmetry;
Help us, our strength is weakness,
Shield us mid temptation's shocks,
Aid us, for we are but feeble,
Building houses in the rocks.

When the storm of judgment thunders,
Where the sky is blue and fair,
To the everlasting mountains,
Jesu, Master, take us there;
Lead us to the verdant pastures,
Where them feed'st thy ransomed flocks,
Owning that thy feeble builders,
Built their houses in the rocks.

Autumn Leaves, pp.48-50

Festival Of St. John The Baptist

"The fire shall ever be burning; it shall never go out." Leviticus 6:13

Thousands of hearts today
Will interchange the grasp of Friendship's hand,
Will round Love's altar celebrate their vows,
The Altar whose bright fire ne'er burns out,
The Altar at whose shrine the weary bows,
And rises nerved for strife,
In the fierce war of Life.
Strong for the battle.

Love's fire ne'er goes out:
Change and transition round its altar pass;
They breathe upon its gold, its brightness dim,
But vanish as the breath-stain from the glass,
Or dew drops from the rose leaf's delicate rim;
Noontide and day and night,
Burns on the holy light,
It goes out, never.

"It never shall go out:"
Time has rejoiced at his spoliations made
O'er classic temple and the sculptured fane,
The lip of beauty and the arm of strength
Ah! he can triumph o'er his thousands slain;
One shrine he dare not drench;
One flame he cannot quench;
It goes out, never.

"It never shall go out:"
'Twas shadowed in Creation's glorious light,
It flashed in the bright cherub's flaming sword,
It glowed in the red bush on Horeb's mount,
It gleamed in stately column on the horde
Of pilgrims hastening on,
From dreary Egypt gone;
It goes out, never.

"It never shall go out:"
Its rays came down in sweet acknowledgment
Of builders' work, when Hiram, King of Tyre,
Solomon, and the widow's son, and thousands more,
In the new temple felt the hallowed fire
Today such friends have met,
Such fire gleams o'er them yet,
It goes out, never.

For they are building on;
Level and square and chisel yet are found,
Sharpened and bright for use, while stone by stone
Changed from rough ashler to the polished shaft,
Rises unheard to God and to St. John.
No sound of hammer falls,
While through the world's wide halls
The house is building.

Saint John the Baptist, if
In thy bright home of glory, thou dost see
The hosts that breathe today thy cherished name,
What will thy message to each votary be?
One thou hast sent before? oh, yes, the same:
"There cometh very nigh,
One mightier than I,
Preferred before me."

Saviour we humbly bow,
Trembling because Thou art that One, Alone;
Trusting because Thou art our Brother, Friend;
In faith we ask for that blest fire of Love,
Upon our hearts' rude altar to descend,
Till from Heaven's blazonry
And faultless masonry,
We pass out, never.

Wayside Flowers, pp.230-233

Charge To The Knight Of Malta

Air Stephenos

Lo, a knight in armour standing,
Ready for the foe;
Thee we greet, belov'd Companion,
Thee we know.

Keep thine oath, oh new made soldier,
Pledged in heaven's sight;
Nor forget the vow thou'st taken,
Malta's knight.

By the banner, o'er us waving,
By thy lance at rest,
Chiefly by that Cross emblazoned
On thy breast.

In the heat of danger's trial,
Dare the fiercest fight;
No desertion, no denial,
Right or life!

See thou turn not from the conflict,
On the battle field,
Though men bear a dying soldier
On thy shield.

Let thy strong arm shield the helpless,
And the feeble save;
Mercy's voice the true knight knoweth,
And the brave.

Welcome, dear Sir Knight, thrice welcome!
To our tented field;
God will aid us till the final
Foe shall yield.

We are pledged unto His kingdom,
Who for us hath borne
Cross and spear, for us did suffer
Crown of thorn.

Then, for Him who rose triumphant
To the heavenly Lamp,
Gird thy sword though night surround thee,
Wild and damp.

When at last, in mortal weakness,
Sword and spear must fall,
Christ, unto Thy Grand Encampment,
Take us all.

from Victor Roy And Other Poems


A Legend of the Temple

The dew was gone,
The morn was bright, the skies were fair,
The flowers smiled neath the sunbeams ray,
Tall cedars grew in beauty there.
As Adoniram took his way,
To Lebanon.

Praise his heart filled,
More than four hundred years had fled,
Since from stern Egypt marched the bands,
Whose sons, with Solomon at their head,
And Tyrian brethern's skilful hands,
Prepare to build.

He watched them there,
Round every block, and every stone,
Masonic implements were laid,
But around one were many thrown,
And yet it seemed already made,
Tried, true and square.

He wandering spake,
"Are not all from one mountain brought
As jewels for a diadem,
Why, have they at this one stone wrought,
Will not all see Jerusalem.
One house to make?"

The Widow's son
Smiled kindly in his brother's face,
And said "All are made ready here,
But not all fill the same high place,
The Corner stone this will be near,
When toil is done."

The listener bent,
His eyes on the unfinished stone,
And found himself a wiser man,
Through that rough child of mountains lone,
A ray of the Grand Master's plan,
To him was sent.

From Masonry,
That just man learnt that woes are thrown
Around God's children, pain and care,
But draw them near the corner stone,
With the Great Architect to share,
Heaven's blazonry.

from Victor Roy And Other Poems

Our Poor Brethren

"Our poor and penniless brethren, dispersed over land and sea." Masonic Sentiment

They met in the festive hall,
Lamps in their brightness shone,
And merry music and mirth,
Aided the feast of St. John.
Men pledged the health of their Queen
And of all the Royal band,
The flags of a thousand years,
The swords of their motherland.

Then mid the revelry came
The sound of a mournful strain,
Like a minor chord in music,
A sweet but sad refrain;
It rose on the heated air,
Like a mourner's earnest plea,
"Our poor and penniless brethren
Dispersed over land and sea."

Poor and penniless brethren
Scattered over the world,
Want and misfortune and woe
Round them fierce darts have hurled;
Wandering alone upon mountains,
Sick and fainting and cold,
Lying heart-broken in prisons,
Chained in an enemy's hold.

Dying in fields of combat,
With none to answer back
The masonic sign of distress,
Left on the battle's track.
Shipwrecked in foaming waters,
Clinging to broken spars,
Dying, this night of St. John,
Mid the ocean and the stars.

Others with hunger faint we
Taste these rich and varied meats
Oppression gives them no home
But dark and desolate streets.
Oh, God of mercy, hear us,
As we ask a boon for Thee,
For poor and penniless brethren
Dispersed over land and sea.

Poor and penniless brethren,
Ah, in the Master's sight,
We all lay claim to the title
On this, our festival night.
Lone pilgrims journeying on
Towards light that points above,
Treading the chequered earthworks
Till we reach the land of love.

Work up to the landmark, brothers,
We shall not always stay,
The falling shadows warn us
To work in the light of day.
How often our footsteps turn
Where a brother's form is hid,
Oft we cast evergreen sprigs
On a brother's coffin lid.

Thou, who dost give to each
Some appointed post to hold,
Teach us to cherish the weak,
To give Thy silver and gold;
To guard as a soldier guards
Honor and Love's pure shrine,
To give our lives for others,
As Thou did'st for us give Thine.

To Masons all over the world
Give wisdom to work aright,
That they may gather in peace
Their working tools at night.
May love's star glitter o'er each,
Amid darkness, storm or mist,
As on this night of St. John,
Our Blest Evangelist.

from Victor Roy And Other Poems;
also, Autumn Leaves, pp.78-81.

Initiation Ode

Air Belmont.

Hark! unto thee a voice doth speak,
A voice of heavenly breath,
And this, the solemn charge it gives,
Be faithful unto death.

Faithful as stars in heaven's blue skies,
Though dark clouds roll between,
Or rocks that show their signal lights
In tempest's wildest scene.

Faithful 'till death, which finally
Shall close thy mortal strife,
When thy reward shall surely be
The crown of endless life.

from Victor Roy And Other Poems

Installation Ode

Blest Ruler, at whose word
The universe was stirred,
And there was light;
Look now with gracious love
From Thy bright home above,
Direct in every move,
Each proved, Sir Knight.

In mysteries well skilled,
Their hearts with courage filled,
Behold they stand;
Strengthen their faith in thee,
Let hope their anchor be,
And heaven-born charity
Mark their command.

Endure with holy light
Each suppliant, Sir Knight;
May each one prove
Faithful in watch and word;
Strong the oppressed, to guard
And win the just reward
Of Faith and Love.

from Victor Roy And Other Poems

Buried With Music

They buried him with music,
And should it not be so?
That the holy dead of earth should rest,
With a solemn cadence low.
Yes, music for the hearth,
And for the cradle-bed,
For festive halls, for warrior bands,
And music for the dead.

The mother lulls her babe
Calmly upon her breast,
With the deep notes from her heart of love,
To soothe it to its rest;
And the sailor on the sea
Sinks peacefully to sleep,
With the wild chords of the ocean's harp,
Stirred by its pulses deep.

They buried him with music
When Autumn's dying moan
Scattered dead leaves on the grave,
Harmony whispered, "Gone!"
When the Autumn's cloud-veiled sun
Gleamed through the sky above,
Music responded unto light,
And the soft tone was, "Love!"

A breeze like breath of Spring
Passed down the gentle slope;
The hand to fuller chords awoke,
And gave the password, "Hope!"
They buried him with music,
And angel harp and string,
Although unheard, yet answered back,
Earth's faint strains quivering.

They buried him with music
Masonic music dear
Once to the heart of him who lay
Upon a Mason's bier
Music that softly breathed
Sad tales of Death's damp sod;
Warm strains that told of cold decay,
Rising to live with God.

O Father! hear our plea;
Give mercy from thy store,
Unto the bands whose weary feet
Still tread the chequered floor;
Give wisdom to the lips,
To form the pleading prayer,
And guide the trembling hand to rule
Each action by the square;

That so by light and love,
They, won to heaven and thee,
May close their eyes to wake and hear
A new-born melody;
That when around their graves
Earth's voices murmur, "Gone!"
The harpers of the Eternal Lodge
May echo, "Won, won, won!"

from The Acacia, pp.20-22

Our Cottage Walls

We are aliens from a distant land,
A land of love and flowers;
And none are here in whose warm veins
Thrills kindred blood with ours;
And they whose sires once proudly trod
Through Britain's royal halls,
Now dwell in lands the stranger owns,
Within the cottage walls.

We have no stores of shining gold
We own not beauty's power;
We move not in the giddy dance,
We live not for one hour;
Yet we have treasures many a king
Seeks vainly till life falls;
Science, and peace, and love, we find,
Can enter cottage walls.

Keep back who enter pleasure's paths,
The thoughtless and the gay;
We have no room for trecherous hearts,
No room for pride's poor sway.
Enter, ye kind and loving ones,
Ye whom our Father calls;
We've room for many such as ye,
Within our cottage walls.

We have the gathered love of years,
We've gentle ones to cheer,
We've sportive children's guileless hearts,
Amid our pathway drear;
And oft the stranger's kindest tone
Upon the lone ear falls;
For some have not disliked the band
Within our cottage walls.

We converse with the mighty dead
We've poetry's thrilling power
We've music sweet, and hallowed charm,
To while the evening hour;
Nor strive to please the listener's ear
With power which but appals;
We only sing the songs we love
Within our cottage walls.

We have an altar raised on high
To the worship of our God;
We tread the glorious paths of old,
Which holier ones have trod;
We've hymns of praise and words of prayer
Breathed softly, when night falls,
And angels, hovering, fold their wings
Around our cottage walls.

We know an everlasting arm
Is still about us cast;
We know we have a glorious rest
When Time's dark waves are past.
Angelic masons now prepare
A house which never falls,
For us, eternal in the heavens,
Though now in cottage walls.

from The Acacia, pp.38-40

Diligent searching has found no further Internet references to this Florizel, so one concludes that he was a fictional character of Harriet Annie's. However, history does confirm that foreign Knights Templars did build fortifications and churches along the River Guadalquivir in southern Spain, and their battles against the Moors there were considered part of the Crusades, even though far from the Holy Land.

The Interment Of Florizel

There were lights in the chapel's old dim aisle,
And hymns sung low 'neath an ancient pile;
There were flowers fresh culled by a maiden's hand;
There was gathered a bold and a fearless band;

And wreaths of blossoms were clustering there;
The rose leaves slept on the marble fair;
And the lamps from the roof gave out their light
As the brilliant stars on a summer night;

And the winds of Heaven that crept gladly through,
A soft, strange life on the flowers threw;
And their light stems thrilled in that marble grove,
As the soul will thrill to a strain we love.

But hushed was the organ's peal and near
A long train drew with a warrior's bier;
And calm was the flashing of many an eye,
To love's pure tribute and grief's sad sigh.

"Halt now, and bury him here!
Where should the loving rest,
But in a hallowed spot,
Beneath the earth's warm breast,
And near the rushing of our own bright river,
The murmurs of the chainless Guadalquivir?

"See, there are flowers here;
What should the gentle seek,
But these mysterious links
From earth to heaven that speak?
But these are not the stranger's own sweet flowers
That come to deck him in his burial hours.

"Music has murmured low
Her dirges for the slain;
Glad that the stranger sleeps
Beneath the soil of Spain.
Unloved! ye may be broken-hearted here;
Unwept! pour o'er the noble dead the tear.

"And must he sleep alone?
He who hath loved too well;
Who found a broken reed
Pierce his heart's inmost cell;
And so he turned to battle's furious tide
He's 'fore the altar now 'the sword his bride.'

"for us he dared the foe;
The Christian knight has bled;
And Andalusia's mould
Yearns for her coming dead.
Rest thee, thou Red Cross Knight our sons shall tell
In years long yet to come of Florizel.

"Tomorrow, and the lamps
Will lose their glorious hue,
And the flowers will give up
Their life and beauty too;
But the memory of the sleeper will remain
Untarnished and undimmed on hearts of Spain."

from The Acacia, pp.41-44

This one is not for the Mason in us, but for the Poet.

The Poet's Evening Prayer

The moon is on the sea,
And the night winds are rustling in the pines,
Low echoing to the soft notes of the dove;
The humming-bird is nestling in the vines,
And I am come, Father in heaven above,
To plead with thee.

Thou, O my God, hast given
Into my hands a delicate harp, well strung,
Trembling, I touch its wires, lest I should mar
Its sweet, reproofless numbers, sweetly hung
By Him who gave us melody from far,
E'en from thy heaven.

When the world's rolling tide
Is cold around me, and I pass along,
Unheeded and unloved a stranger here
This sweet, pure gift of thine, waking to song,
Cheers my lone spirit, and I feel thee near,
Close by my side.

O, give me grace and light,
So to return thy lyre at the last
That thou'lt confess the off'ring, though time tost,
And soiled with fingers of an earthly cast,
Owning, I have not in the deep earth lost
Thy treasure bright.

If I one thought have stirred
Which should have slumbered in oblivion dark,
Where I have sinned by word, by smile, or frown,
O, be thou merciful my sins to mark
Send thy mild angel of forgiveness down
With love's sweet word.

If I have stayed the feet
Which hurried onward to the haunts of crime;
If I have bid one angry passion cease
If I have woke one memory of past time,
One dream of innocence, of home, of peace,
Of childhood sweet;

If from the grave-yard's sod,
The gentle words of comfort have passed by,
And blunted the sharp edges of affliction's spears;
If I have set a rainbow in the sky;
If eyes have set in smiles which rose in tears,
I bless thee, God.

Darkness is drawing round me
I am drawing nearer unto thee for here,
Weary and faint, I fain would slumber long,
Trembling lest unseen danger should be near,
Trusting, because I know thine arm is strong,
Thy love hath bound me.

And now I go to sleep
O, let me calmly dream upon my pillow;
Let me rest, sweetly leaning on thy breast,
Until the rosy light touches the billow;
Let thy bright angels guard my place of rest
While night dews weep.

At last so let it be,
When I have sung the poet's dying song,
And my hands chill with Death's o'erwhelming wave,
Grant me to gladly pass from earth's full throng,
Knowing thy love will wake me from the grave
To be with thee.

from The Acacia, pp.59-62

The Dying Stranger

"Brothers, I am dying now
Lay your hands upon my brow;
It is damp with dews of death,
Slowly comes my feeble breath,
See the sun in yonder sky,
Sailing in its glory by;
When that sun is in the West;
Brothers, I shall be at rest."

And kind men drew to the dying couch,
And knelt by the stranger's bed;
And cool hands moistened the fevered palms,
And pillowed the throbbing head.

"Those I love have passed the gloom
Of the coffin and the tomb;
Where a bending willow waves,
Some rest in their quiet graves;
One, the soldier's pall doth fold;
One, the deep lue sea doth hold;
Their angelic feet have trod
In the city of our God."

And they joyed that the flowers were safely housed,
Yet the watchers paused and wept;
They sighed for the lands where so far away
The loved of the sufferer slept.

"Brothers, we have never met
In an earthly lodge-room yet;
In a distant, sunny land,
Gathers now my own dear band.
Ah! those absent yours and mine
By each word and mystic sign;
Yours, who at this mournful time,
Love one of a foreign clime."

And the listeners blessed the mystic know
That held their souls in one,
The magic chain of an ancient craft
That hath Time and Death outdone.

"Brothers, you will lay me down;
I shall rise to claim a crown;
You will move with solemn tread
Round my llow, my earthy bed;
Let the evergreen appear,
Emblem of my bright hope here,
For I fain would buried be
With the rites of Masonry."

So they buried him there, in a Mason's grave,
With words that a Mason knows,
And Faith and Hope, and a deathless love,
Are wardens of his repose.

from The Acacia, pp.71-73

The following is not a Masonic poem, but included because it presages Harritt Annie's magnum opus, "Victor Roy, A Masonic Poem."

The Officer's Farewell

A gallant Officer, having pledged his affection to his earliest and only love, left Scotland for the scenes of war. By a well-concerted plan he received news of the death of his affianced bride, and previous to his return home he was induced to marry the sister of his commanding Officer. On his arrival home, he discovered the plot to ruin his happiness; he sought one interview with the idol of his heart, and soon after his return to India fell in battle. Records of the Fallen.

The moonbeam fell upon the glen and 'neath the trysting tree
There were bright eyes flashing fire there were tear-drops falling free;
At length, as the young moon rose up, the solemn silence broke,
And like music on the quiet air a gentle maiden spoke:
"Thou art come to say a long farewell a cloud is on thy brow
There was hope within our last adieu that is not in it now;
But oh! may blessings round thee pour; peace nestle at thy side;
Hush! breathe no words of tenderness you have another bride.

" 'Tis hard to feel an iron hand keeping fond heart down
Hard for the lion to crouch still, for a title and a crown
But Alick, bear up manfully, and leave to heaven the rest;
The Red Cross flutters round thy head let it nestle on thy breast.
The storm has beat around my head; I bowed before the blast,
And a calm and holy quietude has settled there at last;
Though I know another jewelled hand is clasped between these twain,
And another head is pillowed here where mine so oft has lain.

"Deal gently with your titled bride her spirit cannot soar
To heights your eagle pinions beat; the sound of ocean's roar,
The music of the young fresh winds among the groves of pine,
Hath to her ear no melody, e'en as it hath to thine;
There's a dreamy languor in her eyes of pure and gentle hue,
But there gleams no light of depths of love beyond the veil of blue;
But oh! dear Alick, for the sake of the one now by your side,
Avenge not wrongs she could not aid upon your youthful bride.

"Our paths are varied now, Alick we will not meet again
The noble ship unfurls her sails to waft you o'er the main;
I'll stay beneath yon cottage roof you'll dare the siroc blast
Our paths are varied now, Alick, but they end in one at last.
There's mercy in the knowledge that rich blessings for us wait
That broken hearts are current coins at the eternal gate;
Oh! let us linger patiently, battling the hosts of sin,
Knowing that One we both adore will gladly let us in.

"But let us make one promise more, beneath this rising moon,
That whichsoe'er is earliest called to that unclouded noon,
When its kindred bark shall anchor fast upon the golden sand,
Shall be the first to greet it home into the spirit land.
Your arm has still its iron grasp there's a fire in your eye
And your soldiers do not look on you as one that's like to die:
But I should not wonder, Alick, if you're first to slumber low,
For cannon blast and sabre point are heedless where they go.

"Hark, Alick! for the bugle's roll is on the evening air,
And hearts of Scotland's richest blood are waiting for you there;
Breathe peace and pardon for your foes; fare! no more we'll meet,
Until the everlasting hills our tearful eyes shall greet."
And midnight came as it had come a thousand times before,
And the shadows of trysting tree were lit with splendour o'er;
And brightly in the morning light the grass shone green and new,
Though broken hearts had press'd it and tear-drops were its dew.

from The Acacia, pp.77-81

A hymn to clock-watching? Yep, a hymn to clock-watching!

Waiting For The Bell To Ring

On the artisan is toiling,
Blackened by the dust and smoke;
On the labourer is delving
Since the light of morning broke,
Weak and weary, but a vision
Of sweet home a charm doth bring,
And with strength renewed they labour,
Waiting for the bell to ring.

Oh! through earth's immense plantation
Do no weary spirits roam,
Crowned heads who sigh for even,
Statesmen longing to go home,
Gentle hearts the heat has blighted,
Captive birds who sadly sing,
Slaves, who work in golden fetters,
Waiting for the bell to ring.

Some have done their task are resting
On the hill-side in the sea
Lance at rest, the troops are waiting
Underneath the willow tree;
Maidens, with their silent tresses,
Infants, rosebuds, nipped in Spring
Matrons, with their worn arms folded,
Waiting for the bell to ring.

Let us toil on, patiently,
Faint and weary, worn and tired,
Up, onward still, "Excelsior!"
With an inward zeal we're fired;
Not for ever must we labour
'Mid rough iron's ceaseless ding,
Hope is nestling in our bosoms,
Waiting for the bell to ring.

Fellow-craftsmen, in the mountain,
Toiling at the unhewn stone,
Firmer grasp the square and chisel,
Till the ashlar is our own;
Balance truly line and plummet
Build the temple to our King;
Courage! we are all expectants,
Waiting for the bell to ring.

Soon shall come the Lord of labour
Into vineyard, garden, field;
Soon shall sound his glorious accents,
"Ye are with my promise sealed;
Come into my glorious chambers
Angels bright your victories sing
Ye were ready at my coming,
Waiting for the bell to ring."

from The Acacia, pp.96-98

Harriet Annie Wilkins (1829-1888)

Harriet (or Harriett, or Harriette) Annie Wilkins was born in Bath, England, in 1829, the second of four children. Her maternal grandfather was the Rev. Dr. David Francis, an eminent classical scholar, and her father, the Reverend John Wilkins, was a Congregationalist minister and a Mason. The family emigrated to North America when she was a young girl, first to Ohio, and later, when she was about 18, to Hamilton, Ontario, where she spent the remainder of her life. When her father died only a little more than a year after taking his post as pastor of the First Congregational Church of Hamilton, he left her as the sole support for two younger siblings and her invalid mother. To do this, she operated a private school for girls, gave music lessons, and wrote poetry. She was a contributor to some of the principal Canadian magazines of the day, usually under the pen name of "Harriett Annie." Although not wealthy enough to travel, she wrote of far-off places and times; a civilian, she was noted for her poems of the devastations of war and battle; a woman, she wrote with surprising knowledge and understanding of the rites of Freemasonry; a spinster, maternal and romantic love were often her subject. A remarkable woman, she passed away at age 58 on January 7, 1888.

Rose Buds: A New-Year Offering to My Friends 1849.
The Holly Branch 1851.
The Acacia 1860 & 1863.
Autumn Leaves 1869.
Wayside Flowers 1876.
Victor Roy, A Masonic Poem [And Other Poems] 1882.

from Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol XI, 1881-1890 (issued 1966):

Wilkins, Harriett (Harriet) Annie; teacher and poet; b. in 1829 in Bath, England, daughter of the Reverend John Wilkins, a Congregationalist minister; d. 7 Jan. 1888 in Hamilton, Ont.

Harriett Annie Wilkins arrived in Hamilton with her family in about 1846. Her father, who had come to act as an interim pastor at the First Congregational Church, Hamilton, died a year or so after his arrival. The poor health of her mother combined with the marriage of her older sister forced Harriett to care for those who remained at home. Her classical and musical knowledge enabled her to conduct a seminary for young ladies and teach music in the family home. She augmented her income by writing poetry. Soon after her arrival in Hamilton she began an association with the Spectator and Journal of Commerce which was to last 30 years: she regularly submitted poems to the "Poet's Corner" and all but one of her five books of poetry (issued as "Harriett Annie") were printed in the Spectator office. the holly branch (1851), The acacia (1860 and 1863), Autumn leaves (1869), and Victor Roy; a masonic poem (1882) were published in Hamilton; Wayside flowers (1876), a collection of her poems, was published in Toronto. Her poems also appeared in the Canadian Illustrated News (Hamilton).

The poetry seems to have had a fairly wide circulation and Wayside flowers was reviewed as far away as Chicago. In the preface, the Reverend William Stephenson of Hamilton, who knew the author well, praised her Christian virtues and expressed hope that her "natural, hearty, and pure" poetry would be well received by a generous public. Copies of her volumes continue to be found in widely dispersed places, indicating contemporary appeal. But it is now read more for the reflection it presents of the times than for its intrinsic merit. The subject matter, often of particular interest to local historians, includes nature, history, mythology, legend, events of the day at home and abroad, and milestones in the lives of all sorts and conditions of men. The treatment is unusually strongly religious. Harriett Annie joined the Church of England after her arrival in Hamilton and a number of her poems suggest that she was an ardent admirer of freemasonry.

The Spectator gave Harriett Annie a laudatory obituary that was unusually long for an impoverished schoolmistress. It and reminiscences of those who knew her portray a Victorian lady who ministered faithfully to the sick, the unfortunate, the neglected, and the forgotten, including prisoners in the jail; they also describe a good teacher and a well-educated woman of considerable literary ability.

Katherine Greenfield

Harriett Annie Wilkins was the author of The acacia (Hamilton, [Ont.], 1860; [2nd ed.], 1863); Autumn leaves (Hamilton, 1869); the holly branch (Hamilton, 1851); Victor Roy; a masonic poem (Hamilton, 1882); and Wayside flowers (Toronto, 1876).

HPL [Hamilton Public Library?], Scrapbook of clippings of Harriett Annie Wilkins, Canadian Illustrated News (Hamilton), 1862-64. Hamilton Herald (Hamilton), 14 Dec. 1901; 22 Oct. 1910; 7 June, 30 Aug. 1912. Hamilton Spectator, 9 Jan. 1888, 15 April 1916, 26 July 1924. Hamilton directory, 1853-90.

Preface to Wayside Flowers.

It is now eighteen years since I became acquainted with Miss Wilkins. I had already seen a small volume of her poems, with many of which poems I was favourably impressed. When I met her, therefore, I was solicitous to know somewhat of her history and circumstances. I found that she was the daughter of a deceased minister, that her mother was in infirm health, and that the care of two younger members of the family devolved largely upon herself. I also found that, to eke out a precarious subsistence for mother, self and family, she was teaching a small private school, and giving lessons in music. From that time to the present I have felt a deep interest in what she has attempted and achieved.

With that sympathy which is always found in company with goodness, she has sought and found many spheres of useful Christian labour, viz., visiting the sick, seeking out "the neglected and the forgotten," conducting Bible Classes in our gaol, and ministering, by her counsels and her prayers, to the encouragement and comfort of many. In the midst of necessary toil, and her unostentatious and unrecorded works of benevolence, she has continued to court the Sacred Nine.

Her effusions are, to a great extent, lyrical, and many of them of a very high character. There is a delicacy, a beauty, a tenderness, together with a rich hue of thought, pervading almost all she has written. Her martial strains are whole-souled, and ring out the brave unconquerable spirit with unusual force. "The Soldier of Auvergne," "The Death of Captain Headley Vicars," and many others of this class, have seldom been surpassed. Her "Tears," when shed, almost invariably find responsive drops in other's eyes. As a poet she is natural, hearty and pure, not straining after effect. She nevertheless accomplishes what many more showy than she cannot attain to. I speak thus touching such of her poetry as has already appeared in print; and I can speak equally definite as to such MSS. as I have examined. I sincerely hope that Miss Wilkins, in this her effort to collect into one volume such pieces as, from their intrinsic merit, ought to live, will be met by a generous public with the patronage she so truly deserves.

Rev. Wm. Stephenson.

"Wesley Church" Parsonage,
Hamilton [Ontario], Nov., 1875.

from The Canadian Monthly and National Review by William White

WAYSIDE FLOWERS. By Harriet Annie Wilkins. Toronto: Hunter, Rose & Co. 1876.

This collection of poems is prefaced by the Rev. W. Stephenson, of Hamilton, who tells us of Miss Wilkins, that "there is a delicacy, a beauty, a tenderness, together with a rich hue of thought pervading almost all she has written." We do not find this assertion borne out as fully as might have been desired in the volume itself, unless it be in the particular of tenderness, which it may claim as its chief merit. The tone and intention of the poems are admirable, but their execution is faulty, and their actual merit not very remarkable. Many of them suggest a possibility which none of them fulfil. Like most ladies who commit their sentiments to verse, Miss Wilkins carries too far the principle of poeta nascitur, non fit, and deprives the talent she may possess of the very necessary adjuncts of correctness of metre and accuracy of grammar. While there are in this volume frequent passages of not a little melody, we have failed to find any poem which runs smoothly throughout, while many of them set at defiance all attempts at scanning. That entitled "Beautiful Lilly" has but one very noticeable faux pas in the metre, and is perhaps as graceful and pleasing as any in the book. Abrupt transitions from one tense to another, which are of continual occurrence, are less mystifying only than the occasional absence in a sentence of any verb whereupon to ring these changes. After a slip like "The hand of they who .... sweep round," we were not altogether unprepared for

"That hand had signed the mystic cross
Whose voice was speaking now."

Most of Miss Wilkins's similes are decidedly conventional, and her metaphors we greet as old acquaintances, except a few such as that of "Eternity's lake," which is not happy in its suggestion of limitation. As representative of several similar instances, we may cite this delightful bit of confusion:

" . . .to cool our parching lips with fruit
That grows around the tree of life's best root."

A great deal of the poetry is of a sacred character, and there are several martial pieces, which are not the most successful in the volume. Canadian subjects receive due attention, and local ones are by no means neglected. The typography is so good throughout that we hesitate to throw on the usual scape-goat, the compositor, the responsibility of the Rev. W. Stephenson's awkward remark that he "can speak equally definite as to such MSS." as he has examined.