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Ashlar Home > Poems > Rob Morris > The Master of the Upright Heart

The Master of the Upright Heart

By Rob Morris

We journeyed up the western flood,
My little boys and I,
And watched the drifts of ice and wood
That floated swiftly by
While banks and trees and dwellings, too,
Appeared like islands in the view.

We marked with sympathy and grief
The general distress,
And fain the lads would give relief
To every suffering case
But when a corpse came floating past
They fled the spectacle, aghast.

Then in our little room we met
They thronged the willing knee,
And listened to the various fate
Of men by land and sea
Of shipwrecked sailors, starved for food,
And lost ones wandering in the wood.

I told them of such noble deeds
Where rescue had been given,
Such generous acts, that he who reads
Is moved to worship Heaven.
But most I pleased them with the part
Of Julian of The Upright Heart.

'Twas on a stormy April day,
The floods were at their height
All Frankfort gather'd out, they say,
To see a dismal sight:
A broken bridge a swollen sea
And oh, a drowning family!

The Master of 'The Upright Heart'
Was Frankfort's noblest son
On many a field of high desert
His laurels had been won
Not laurels wet with human blood,
But those acceptable to God.

Smiles from the face of cold despair,
The widow's grateful song,
The orphan's praise, the stranger's prayer,
These to his crown belong
Ah! many such, thank God there be
In our world-wide fraternity!

Prince Julian galloped to the brink
Of that tremendous flood
The perishing about to sink
Inspired his noble blood
He called aloud, he called the brave
This wretched family to save!

None answered him again he cried:
'Oh! have you hearts of stone,
To see them perish by your side?
Look, look, they wave us on!'
He offered gold as water free,
To save the drowning family!

But when the boldest shrank deterred
From such a desperate deed,
He uttered not another word,
But bowed his pious head,
Looked upward, gave his soul to God,
And plunged into the raging flood!

That day the gates of Heaven were thrown
To admit a spirit freed
That day earth lost her noblest son,
And gave him to the dead
That day enshrined the Royal Art,
Her hero of 'The Upright Heart! '

The lads sat thoughtful on my knee,
Reflecting on the tale
They loved to talk of Masonry,
And knew its precepts well
I know what made him take such pains
The signs they made were Masons' signs!

Commentary

German authors describe the affecting incident given in the following lines. The opening verses allude to a journey up the Mississippi River in 1853, swollen at that time out of its banks, during which the author related the incident to his three sons.
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