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Ashlar Home > Poems > R. J. McLaughlin

The Poetic Works of R. J. McLaughlin

The Square

The ciders of our ancient art
Built Temples, high and fair,
And never stone was laid in place
And never column rose in grace,
Untested by the Square.

Our elders left a heritage,
Up reared in wood and stone,
That we, who follow, might behold
The craft of these, the men of old,
Thus, through their works, made known.

Oh, let us do our work as well,
Though never dome we raise,
With brain untutored, hand unskilled,
A square-set Temple may we build,
Of simple nights and days.

The Square of Virtue for our acts
Wherewith to set them true,
Can make a building, standing quite
As worthy in our children's sight,
And in the Master's, too.

Thus may we, too, great builders be
As any ancient race
Our Temple is the square-set mind,
Wherein the Master's Self may find
A fitting dwelling-place.

Trowel

Now each man builds a Temple by his single strength alone,
And whatsoe'er its worthiness, that Temple is his own,
Of chaste and gleaming marble or of ugly mud and clay,
Each Temple must its builder's self, his secret soul, display.

The world beholds and reasons Lo, this builder's house is fair
All honor to the Craftsman who has set such beauty there
For such a noble monument, so straight and white and grand,
Reveals a wise and cleanly brain, a strong and cleanly hand.

But ofentimes it happens that, ere many years have sped,
This Temple's symmetry departs, its beauty wholly fled,
And what was once magnificance is soil and wrack and rust,
And perfect columns find their rest in overwhelming dust.

Ah, world, look closely when you would a Temple well discern,
And peradventure lessons may you profitably learn,
Behold its stones but ere you say The hand that wrought was clean.
Take heed of other buildings and mark what lies between.

There is no house the Master sees- and calls the builder good-
Whose stones are not anointed by the hand of brotherhood,
Which have not felt the Trowel's touch which there the mortar laid,
The mortar that the builder's self, his secret soul, displayed.

Howe'er the Temple's grace, whate'er the builder's pain,
Because it lacked the Trowel's touch, the same was reared in vain,
And in despite of outward strength, of beauty and renown,
Because it lacked the Trowel's touch, the same shall crumble down.

For each man builds a Temple by his single might alone,
And whatsoe'er its worthiness, that Temple is his own
The world may judge the beauty which the world's blind eyes have seen,
But only may the Master say The builder's hand was clean.
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