Table of Contents

There have been so many poems and variations on this topic, that they're being set off on their own page. Some of these also appear on their authors' pages, if known and if the author has other entries as well.

  1. The Knife And Fork Degree
    Disbrow ?
  2. The Working Tools Of The Fourth Degree
  3. 6:30 Degree
  4. The 6:30 Ode
  5. The Sign of the Portable Cooker
  6. The Knife and Fork Degree Prose
  7. The Working Tools Of The Festive Board Prose
    Collins ?
  8. The Working Tools of a Steward Prose
  9. The Working Tools Of An E-Mason Prose
    Hoover ?
  10. The Working Tools Of A Golfer Prose

The Knife And Fork Degree

attributed to A.J. Disbrow

I don't attend the meetings,
for I've not the time to spare.
But every time they have a feast,
you'll surely find me there.
I cannot help with the degrees,
for I do not know the work.
But I can applaud the speaker,
and handle a knife and fork.
I'm so rusty in the ritual,
that it seems like Greek to me,
But practice has made me perfect,
in the Knife and Fork degree.

found (unattributed) in "Fraternal Poetry and Prose," 1950.

The Working Tools Of The Fourth Degree

by Charles Fotheringham

As we are assembled round this festive board,
Each in his respective station,
I now present you the working tools
Of a convivial Master Mason.

The knife is an implement made to carve
The most ancient and venerable rooster,
Not tear it apart with our fingers,
Like our ancient brethren "use-ter".

The fork is an implement to help us reach out,
Sometimes where the other guy's place is,
And carries the portions carved by the knife
To the aperture in our faces.

The spoon is a wonderful implement too,
Shaped and formed like a scoop,
You must use it with care and always beware,
Never slurp when taking the soup.

The tumbler determines the quantity there,
To limit the amount you may drink,
That we may preserve our faculties rare,
Not act like a big human sink.

But now I see you are waiting for me
To apply these tools to our morals,
But as we are not speculative just now,
We'll apply these tools to our victuals.

From the knife which is long and sharpened for use
We learn an old lesson true,
To never cut more for the hole in our face
That we can comfortably chew.

From the fork with its shoulders true and firm,
Its four prongs standing together,
We learn that Masons should always be true,
And steadfast in all kinds of weather.

The spoon is for foodstuffs that will not stand up,
Like cereals, soups or jelly,
By this we're reminded that we should be strong,
And have more backbone than belly.

The tumbler reminds us when giving a toast,
When to Master or Tyler we sip,
We mustn't forget and indulge too much,
That we may not lose our grip.

Now from the whole we this moral deduce,
These tools for our use are essential,
But never make hogs of yourselves by their use,
Or perhaps you may lose your potential.

It isn't just right to gorge every night,
With good things, to stewards' preferential,
Just take enough of all the good stuff,
For temperance is surely prudential.

So don't ever use the tumbler too much,
'Til you stammer and wobble and stutter,
Don't be a big fool with this working tool,
Or you may spend the night in the gutter.

So, brethren, be sure when from labour you're called
To refreshment, shun the attractions,
Let prudence and temperance and fortitude be
The rule and the guide of your actions.

6:30 Degree

Walter K. Belt

You may have a skillful Master
Who presides with practiced ease,
Who arranges clever programs
That will entertain and please,
One who calls in witty speakers;
Who knows his way about;
But a lavish Junior Warden
Is the boy who brings them out!

You may have a good degree team
Where each member knows his part.
Drilled to function as a unit
With especial skill and art,
With the finest of equipment,
Jewelled crown and sumptuous shroud;
But a groaning banquet table
Is the bait that draws the crowd!

Did I say that I was different?
If the truth must be confessed,
Much as I like work and speeches,
I'm as hungry as the rest;
And the ones they put in pudding
Are my favorite kind of "Plumb";
When the cry is "Come and get it!"
Gangway, slowpokes, here I come!

from the Eastern Star News, Oct 15, 1940

Our own founder has written a couple poems about aspects of the Festive Board. While not specifically mentioning the K&F Degree, they are close enough to the spirit of it to have duplicates included on this page.

The 6:30 Ode

To the fork and the knife,
To the pots and the cups,
To the repast of life,
To wonderful sups.

For the rolls and the butter,
For handshakes around,
For the small prayer we utter,
For smiles that abound.

Let the world stay outside.
Let its wind howl and blow!
Let the words that deride,
Let 'em pack up and go.

It's at supper this nite.
It's to mix with each one.
It's doing what's right.
It's friendship that's done.

So pass up the plate.
So start up the chatter.
So isn't this great?
So what's on the platter?

Sometimes fellowship starts with the festive board and the festive board would be incomplete without the portable cooker!

The Sign of the Portable Cooker

Looking for signs, and great emblems and tools,
That are shrouded and dim thru the ages?
Something we'll know and not look like the fools?
Then look no further, my friend,
Then to the sign of the portable cooker!

It's big and it's white, and black handles on end,
And gawd-awful heavy when full.
No mystery here and no secrets to send,
And those passwords are really not needed
At the sign of the portable cooker!

Black cover, black dial, and no sex appeal;
It holds beans, or the oysters in stews.
And strangers mixed well, what a thing! What a deal!
At suppers and meals when standing on line
At the sign of the portable cooker!

For roasting and braising and cooking a lot
Of the stuff that we think that is needed.
But friends it makes well, what a wonderful pot!
As we sit and partake of the world
By the sign of the portable cooker!

Most strangers and friends will know at a glance,
No mystery here at this time.
'Cause spirits uplifted, our souls more enhance
With good cheer and lots more
At the sign of the portable cooker!

This standard equipment of lodges around
Should be issued along with the charter.
No way to explain the Masons it's bound
Or the laughs or the friends that we've made
By the sign of the portable cooker!

Besides poetic descriptions, there have also been some imaginative prose ones, which, if we're going to devote a page to the subject, deserve to be archived here.

The Knife And Fork Degree

The Knife and Fork Degree is of ancient origin and honorable history.
Records of this degree are found in the most Ancient Manuscripts.
It already was ancient when the first Grand Lodge was constituted in 1717.

The three principal tenets of this degree are Faith, Hope and Charity.
We have Faith in the Stewards, we Hope that faith is well founded.
And sometimes have to exercise Charity towards what is set before us.

Some of the secrets of this degree,
found in the written portion of our unwritten work,
are communicated from hand to mouth;
but the more important secrets are not to be found in the refreshments.
You can't make me believe that any Brother
will sit through three or four hours of a Lodge meeting
merely for what is served at the Refreshment board.

The real secrets of the degree are to be found
in the companionship around the festal board;
the banter between Brethren,
the opportunity for the development of friendships;
the word from one Brother to make the gathering think;
the word from another Brother to make the gathering smile,
the good fellowship,
the wholesome, enjoyable, profitable rubbing of shoulders
with those with whom we wish to associate,
with whom we wish to become better acquainted.

Published in Masonic Bulletin-BCY-September 1952
and found at Freemason's Corner

The Working Tools Of The Festive Board

The Working tools of the Festive Board are the Fork, the Knife and the Tumbler.

The Fork is an implement with which food is conveyed to the aperture known as the mouth, for mastication and subsequent digestion. It is an important implement in the hands of even the most inexperienced Mason, for by its use he may secure for himself, by reaching across the table, the most dainty and succulent morsel that adorns the Festive Board, to gratify the eye and stimulate the jaded appetite. More particular should it be used when partaking of peas, for if conveyed to the mouth on the knife, these vegetable globules become rather elusive and may fall to the lap of the consumer.

The Knife, when properly ground and sharpened, may be used to disect the anatomy of even the most venerable Rooster, to carve and prepare it into suitable portions to fit the afore mentioned aperture, so that it be not filled to excess and thus prevent the voluble flow of eloquence which should at all times characterise the social Mason.

The Tumbler is an implement for our liquid refreshment and being of glass the user can ascertain and determine with accuracy and precision the amount of liquor to be poured therein, which is most conductive to the maintenance of our general joviality; and although it has not got the mark known as the "Pretty", the skilful craftsman can measure his tot by the two or three finger rule.

Brethren, we are met here to cultivate the social virtues but it is the moral lessons conveyed by these implements that we are especially to regard.

The Fork, being four pronged and sharp, teaches us four things. Firstly, that we should not sit back and wait for the things which we most desire. Secondly, that we reach out and secure them and having secured to retain them. Thirdly, that we profit by our experiences and assimilate the knowledge gained through our opportunities. Fourthly, nor should the little things in life be overlooked, lest they escape our grasp and be lost beyond recall.

The Knife teaches us assiduousness, for as it requires to be sharp and in good order to cope with the problems that confront it, so it teaches us to take care of our corporal faculties so that we are not left behind in the battle of life. It also teaches us not to cut off more than we can comfortably chew, so that rising to eminence by merit, we may live respected and die regretted.

The Tumbler teaches us moderation in all things, for as the tumbler will only hold a certain amount without becoming detrimental to it's surroundings, so it teaches us not to exceed the limits of our capacity, with an overflowing of untimely hilarity and confusion of our mental and physical powers. As it has no graduated scale by which to measure its varied contents, the user must exercise judgment as to the quantity poured therein and ensure that it is not beyond the limit of his internal economy.

Thus the working tools of the Festive Board teach us to remember and to act according to the cardinal virtues of temperance and tolerance, so that when we rise to drink to our next merry meeting we may rise and depart homeward with a clear brain, a contented mind and an equal poise after having partaken of all the good things with which a bountiful providence has provided.

WBro Jim Collins
Rechab Masonic Lodge No 667
Lisburn N. Ireland
(It's not known if he wrote this version, or merely contributed it.)

The Working Tools of a Steward

(The lecture is usually assigned to a Past Master who has previously shown a high degree of competence in the art of Stewardship)

By command of the Junior Warden and with the kind permission of the Worshipful Master, I now present and explain to you the Working Tools of the Steward. These consist of the Knife, the Fork, the Goblet and the Common Gabble.

The Knife is to cut off all knobs, excrescences, et cetera, from anything Edible, Digestible, or Comestible, so that the said part or parts of anything Edible, Digestible, or Comestible may be rendered fit for the jaws of the expert workman.

The Fork is to convey the material so prepared and to place it between the two rows of pillars situated at the porch way or entrance, somewhat below the temple. You will notice that the Fork has several points or prongs. At first, all are exposed, but soon all are hidden, and the number of times this is done to the minute denotes the progress you are making in the Science.

The Goblet is to hold whatever the steward may feel disposed to contribute, which will be thankfully received and faithfully applied. It is only to be used when there is One and only one Worshipful Master of the Lodge present. If you can see two, you are making too much progress in the Science.

The Common Gabble is used to cheer and edify the workmen while waiting for the material. Also, it is used for ornamenting, adorning, embroidering and embellishing our speech, so that, as visitors, we may say of the Worship Master and his Officers (however they may work!) "O Wonderful Masons."

The peculiar sign of the Office of Steward is call the "aleing sign" or sign of repletion. It is given by a distinct pressure on the middle two buttons of the vest, or any buttons on the jacket if the vest is not present, and it denotes plenty.

But as we are not all operative, but sometimes very speculative Masons we apply these tools to our morals. In this sense the Knife teaches us to keep our portion within due bounds. The Fork teaches us to estimate and determine the limits and proportions of our distended structure. The Goblet makes us all to tell the Truth with a freedom of expression that is at once surprising and illuminating. The Common Gabble tells us of goodwill and fellowship.

Thus, let our Knives be cutting, but not our Gabble. Our Forks held in check but not our digestions. And our Goblets filled with the Spirit of Brotherhood and Benevolence. And moreover brethren, whilst at the beginning we pay respect to the Crown let us not fail to deposit our appreciation with the Tyler ere we depart.

by Worshipful P. Venkatraman, PM
Past District Grand Chaplain, District Grand Treasurer
District Grand Lodge of Bombay and Northern India
Lodge and Chapter Universal Brotherhood No 3835 (EC)
Bombay, India

Getting a bit off the original topic, but not entirely out in left field, one hopes, here's a variation on the theme.

The Working Tools Of An E-Mason

I now present to you the working tools of an E-Mason.
They are the mouse...
the keyboard...
and the modem.

The mouse is to move within the desktop,
the keyboard to input the data,
and the modem to publish the data to cyberspace.

But as we are not, however, assembled as Computer Nerds,
but rather as Operative or E-Masons,
these tools are downloaded as vehicles of moral significance
and to show the meaning of E-Masons,
and thus we apply them -

The Mouse teaches us to keep within the bounds of the screen
- a square wherein which we must all meet.

The Keyboard to show us that communication will lead us to
better understanding to each other and the rest of mankind.

And the Modem to teach us that even when we are alone on
the most remote part of the globe, we may meet and gain
moral sustenance from each other
and thus learn more of the wonderful works of the GAOTU.

Originally attributed to
Bob Hoover, Sr., PM
C.G. Fox 1021
Buffalo, New York, USA

This has also been seen with the closing "GAOTU" replaced by "AAONMS."

And here's another variation on the theme! Author Unknown

The Working Tools Of A Golfer

I now present you with the working tools of a Golfer, which are
the Driver,
the Iron,
the Putter and
the Score Card.
The Driver is to drive the ball,
the Iron is to aid its progress and
the Putter is to enable us to follow that straight and undeviating line laid down for our pursuit, and finally to place the ball in its safe and hidden repository over the smooth and prepared surface of the green,
while upon the Score-card are recorded the efforts of the Golfer to mark his progress in the science.

But as we are not professional golfers, but rather amateurs we apply these tools to our morals in this sense.
The Driver denotes the force of conscience, which should keep down all vain and unbecoming thoughts, which might infringe during the period of time in which we occupy the tee.
The Iron, an important implement of the Science and solid in its form, teaches us that exertion is necessary to success. We are reminded that no game of golf can be completed without its aid and to so high an eminence has its usefulness been raised, that Monarchs’ themselves have not felt it derogatory to their dignity to exchange the scepter for it.
The Putter instructs us to be accurate, and to temper our efforts with restraint,
while the Scorecard teaches us that our words and actions are observed and recorded by the All Powerful Handicap Committee to whom we must render an account of our conduct. It reminds us of their unerring and impartial justice in allocating to us our positions in all Club Competitions and also we shall be rewarded or punished as we have obeyed or disregarded their commands.

From the whole we receive this teaching, that skill aided by exertion, and exercised with patience combined with a strict adherence to the principles laid down for our guidance in the Volume of the Laws of the Game, will enable us, when summoned from the course to appear before the Club Committee, to do so with the knowledge that we have endeavored to faithfully follow the precepts inculcated in the Lectures received from the skilled professional.