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Ashlar Home > Poems > Palmer H. Taylor > The Rusty Mason

The Rusty Mason

By Palmer H. Taylor

1862
Once on a time I sought to know
The mysteries of Masonry,
and seeking Knocked,
and found the door wide open for me.

And when I looked within
I saw a band of men all clothed in white
Around an altar and on the altar
Lay the word of God with square and compasses.

Of that band of men,
I saw one more kingly than the rest,
For on a throne he sat, and gave to each
And all, lessons of wisdom.

He came and gave to me
A lamb-skin, pare and white, and
Told its meaning.

He told me, too, that good great men
Long had worn it, and how free it was
From stain, or spat, or blemish.

He gave me tools to work with,
A guage, a gavel, level, plumb and square,
And last of all, a trowel that had no spot
Of rust upon it, for earth's noblest sons
Had used it ages long upon the Mystic Temple.

He told me, too, I stood an upright Mason
He spoke to me of Temperance, Fortitude,
Of Prudence and of Justice.

I listened still with wondering ears
To learn a Mason's tenets
And when they song of Faith, of Hope,
And Charity, the true steps that lead
From the level of time to the Grand Lodge on high,
I pledged myself then, that the tools to me given,
Should never find rest till the cap-stone was laid !
And my lamb-skin, if spotted, should know but the stain
Of Masonic cement, while on life's rugged road.

This pledge was freely given,
For I meant to act as Masons act
And if my memory serves me right,
I started for the work, but found the world
All cold and selfish, and then I feared
To make the effort.

I never used my tools one hour,
And all are lost, save this - this rusty trowel.
It seemed to me it might have kept its brightness
If never used, but as I laid it by
The rust began to gather, and now
It has no affinity far any, save
Untempered mortar.

I hope some Craftsman true has found
My guage, my gavel, level, plumb and square,
And laid them by for better workmen.
Inactive as I was,
My lamb-skin gathered dust,
And with the gathering dust,
It lost its whiteness and now that, too, is gone.

If I remember rightly, they taught me
How to know my brethren.
Though they were truly given,
They were not safely lodged.
And now, to tell the summing
Of this matter, this much I know
I once was made a Mason!

Commentary

by Palmer H. Taylor
The Masonic Review - 1862
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