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Ashlar Home > Poems > Rob Morris > The Corner Stone

The Corner Stone

By Rob Morris

Here is a legend that our fathers told
When Mason toils were done, and round the board
The Craftsmen sat harmonious, in the glow
Of Brotherly Love ! I heard it long ago
From lips now silent and by this corner stone
I fain would tell it as 'twas told to me.

'Tis said that Solomon, in the vast array
Of nine score thousand workmen who came up
From Lebanon's foot, to build the temple, found
Discord and strife, contentions harsh and sharp,
Even to murder hands that wielded best
The peaceful Trowel, black with human gore
Aprons, worn to protect them from the soil,
Bloody with horrid stain and in their speech,
Instead of gentle memories of home,
And children's prattle and sweet mother love,
Dire curses, threats, the very speech of Hell,
Such base materials came up from Tyre.

King Solomon all humbly took the case to God,
And in deep visions of the night the Voice
Divine came to his soul in sweet response.
From the great Peace Lodge, where the patriarchs sit,
Wisdom descended, and his soul was glad.
The Wisest gave our wisest such a warmth
Of Light celestial that the fire has burned,
Steady, undimmed, lo, these three thousand years.

'Twas this. I was but young in Masonry
When first I heard it and 'twas told to me
By one of four score, long since gone to Heaven
And he did testify unto his truth
And now, I add the experience of my life
To its strict verity, and it was this:

The Monarch bade prepare a corner stone,
Vastly more large than this, than ten of this
I saw it in my visit to the place
A monstrous Ashlar, beveled on the edge,
Phoenician emblem, standing plumb and firm
Within the mountain, standing, as we say,
Respected friends, trusty, deep-laid and true!
And on the under side of this large stone,
King Solomon gave orders to scoop out
A Cavity, as you have done with this
And when with mighty enginery, the Block
Was raised, as yours, dear Craft, just now was done,
He placed, with his own hands, within the Crypt,
What think you? newspapers? and current coins?
And names of honored men? No, no, he placed
All those damned vices, that discolored so
The spirits of his workmen, hatreds, all
That stained their Aprons, fouled their Trowels, cursed
The air of Palestine with notes of Hell!
These things by his great power, King Solomon took
From out the hearts of that Freemason band,
Placed them within the Crypt and ordered quick,
The mighty stone let down, and closed them there,
And stamped his Mystic Seal upon the stone!
And there they lie intact, unto this hour!

Henceforth the Work all peacefully went on
The giant stones were laid within the walls
Without the sound of ax or iron tool.
Pure Brotherly Love sublimely reigned, and so
The Temple of King Solomon was built!
Honored and well beloved Grand Master! see
This mighty Order you so justly rule,
For thirty centuries has given respect
To Solomon's Seal! his corner stone abides
Right where he planted it, the strange contents
Festering dishonored in their dark repose.
Oh, may they never rise to plague the Craft!
No blood is on our Aprons, on our Tools
No trace of human gore upon our tongues
No unfraternal epithets thank God!
Thank God! And to the latest day of earth,
When the last trump shall call the blest above,
May Peace, sweet Peace, celestial Peace, abide
In Masons' lodges and in Masons' souls.

Commentary

The thought embodied in these lines is one of the most charming fancies in Masonic symbolism for the use of the trowel is admittedly the best work of the best Masons, and the Lodge that exists in peace and harmony is the model Lodge. To disturb this harmony by substituting clamor, calumny, and harsh judgment for the mild voices of peace is what is implied in the following lines under the idea of robbing the corner stone!
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