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Ashlar Home > Poems > Rob Morris > The Pursuit of Franklin

The Pursuit of Franklin

By Rob Morris

Midst polar snows and solitude,
Eight weary years the voyager lies,
Ice-bound upon the frozen flood,
While expectation vanishes
Ah! many a hopeless tear is shed
For Franklin, numbered with the dead!

Midst joys of home, and well earned fame,
Young, healthful, honored, there is one
Who pines to win a nobler name,
And feels his glory but begun
His heart is with the voyager, lost
Midst polar solitude and frost.

The voice from off the frozen flood
Appeals in trumpet tones for aid
'Tis heard, 'tis answered, swift abroad
The flag is hung, the sail is spread
That sail on whose pure face we see
Thy symbol, honored Masonry!

Away, on glorious errand, now,
Thou hero of a sense of right!
Success be on thy gallant brow,
Thou greater than the sons of might!
Thy flag, the banner of the free,
Oh, may it lead to victory!

Is there some chain of sympathy
Flung thus across the frozen seas?
Is there some strange, mysterious tie,
That joins these daring men? there is!
This, honored, healthful, free from want,
Is bound to that in Covenant!

For though these twain have never met,
Nor pressed the hand, nor joined the heart,
In unison their spirits beat,
Brothers in the Masonic art
One, in the hour of joy and peace,
One, in the hour of deep distress.

And by the Symbols, best of those
Time-honored on our ancient wall,
And by the prayer that ceaseless flows,
Upward from every Mystic Hall,
And by thine own stout heart and hand,
Known, marked, and loved in every land.

Thou shalt succeed, his drooping eye
Shall catch thy banner, broad and bright,
That symbol he shall yet descry,
And know a Brother in the sight!
Ah, noble pair! which happier then,
Of those two daring, dauntless men?

Commentary

When Dr. Kane, the Arctic navigator, left New York in search of Sir John Franklin, he set the Masonic Square and Compass in large characters upon his foresail. He visited a Lodge in Newfoundland at his brief call there. The flag taken and left, by his orders, nearest the North Pole, was the Masonic flag. It was an incentive to the zealous search made by our intrepid countrymen, that Franklin was reported to be a Freemason.
The following lines were written in 1853, upon his setting out upon his philanthropic errand. It is needless to say, however, that the writer's prediction failed in its fulfillment.
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