Table of Contents

February 2007
  1. Introduction
  2. A Symbol by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  3. Bright Eastern Star by Helen E. C. Balmer
  4. The Sign of Distress by David Barker
  5. The Working Tools by A.S. McBride
  6. Have We Lost... by Tim Bryce
  7. A Sigh of Relief by Kris DeLong
  8. Weep Not for Me by Robert P. May
  9. Tanned Virgin Hide by Arthur Peterson


It's been 17 months since the last issue of these Proceedings. Way more than the 7 weeks between issues that I had originally envisioned! But at last, this is in your hands on your screens! And the time between hasn't been lost. Several new poems have come in, scads of older poems have been added to the website, and the websites themselves have been undergoing extensive remodelling and renovation! But even though new features have been added, the basic structure has remained in place, so it should still have the comforting feel of the familiar website you've known from the past. I've also tried to keep the use of pictures and javascript on the main page to a minimum to facilitate the page loading, but using HTML and CSS to their limits to keep the page looking interesting. Try clicking the button and see for yourself. It's only been tested on a machine running Windows'98, so let Owen know if there are any bugs in it.

As usual, this issue will contain suggestions for how you can help the MPoets.

And now some new items:

The rest of this issue is a sampler of new poems on the site. Only one poem from each poet is presented, though most have more than one new poems on the individual pages dedicated to each, and many other poets than these few also have new poems on the site.

Revived Poems, new to this site

A Symbol

by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), as translated from the German by Edgar Alfred Bowring. Another translation is on Goethe's page.

The mason's trade
Resembles life,
With all its strife, —
Is like the stir made
By man on earth's face.

Though weal and woe
The future may hide,
We onward go
In ne'er changing race.

A veil of dread
Hangs heavier still.
Deep slumbers fill
The stars over-head,
And the foot-trodden grave.

Observe them well,
And watch them revealing
How solemn feeling
And wonderment swell
The hearts of the brave.

The voice of the blest,
And of spirits on high
Seems loudly to cry:
"To do what is best,
Unceasing endeavour!"

In silence eterne
Here chaplets are twin'd,
That each noble mind
Its guerdon may earn. —
Then hope ye for ever!

An amusing aside: this poem has been reproduced many places on the Net. In perhaps its first appearance, it was printed in 2 columns in PDF format. In subsequent copies, the two columns were often compressed to one, but because of the awkward way that PDF treats columnar text, the poem thus ended up with the lines interleaved: lines 1, 15, 2, 16, 3, 17... Even when not broken to separate lines, the right hand column usually has a ragged left margin, making this look like the order the lines are to be read in. And since Goethe is such an abstruse poet anyway (at least in English translation), apparently no one has ever noticed!

Bright Eastern Star

by Helen E. C. Balmer (1847-1943)

to be sung to the music of "The Holy City."

Outside the lodge-room waiting, a sound broke on my ear,
I heard sweet voices singing, in accents soft and clear.
They sang in loving kindness, of charity's sweet call,
Of true fraternal friendship, and God's love over all.
Of true fraternal friendship, and God's love over all.

Oh, Eastern Star, Bright Eastern Star
Still guide and lead us on.
'Till, faithful, we shall enter
The "New Jerusalem."

I entered through the doorway, a change now met me there.
The singer's voice was silent, I heard a voice in prayer.
And in the sweet petition there made to God above,
They plead the gift of charity, the blessing of His love.
They plead the gift of charity, the blessing of His love.

Oh, Eastern Star, Bright Eastern Star
Still guide and lead us on.
Till, faithful, we shall enter
The "New Jerusalem."

Then at the alter humbly knelt, the solemn vow was made.
To be true, faithful ever, true to myself and God.
And in that consecrated hour, New light shone o'er my way,
Light from the "Star of Bethlehem," the light of perfect day.
I knew henceforth my way would be (though numbered 'mid the least)
Among the favored ones who, too, had seen the "Star in the East."
Among the favored ones who, too, had seen the "Star in the East."

Oh, Eastern Star, Bright Eastern Star
Still guide and lead us on.
Till, faithful, we shall enter
The "New Jerusalem."
Till, faithful, we shall enter
The "New Jerusalem."

The Sign of Distress

by David Barker (1816-1874)

'Twas a wild dreary night in the cheerless December,
'Twas a night only lit by a meteor's gleam;
'Twas the night of that night, I distinctly remember,
That my soul journeyed forth on the wings of a dream.

That dream found me happy, by tried friends surrounded,
Enjoying with rapture the comforts of wealth,
My cup overflowing, with blessings unbounded,
My heart fully charged from the fountains of health.

That dream left me wretched — by friendship forsaken,
Dejected, despairing, and wrapped in dismay,
By poverty, sickness and sorrow o'ertaken,
To every temptation and passion a prey,

In frenzy, the wine-cup I instantly quaffed at,
And habit and time made me quaff to excess,
But heated by wine, like a madman, I laughed at
The thought of e'er giving a Sign of Distress.

But wine sank me lower, by lying pretences,
It tattered my raiment and furrowed my face,
It palsied my sinews and pilfered my senses,
And forced me to proffer a Sign of Distress.

I reeled to a chapel where churchmen were kneeling,
And asking their Savior poor sinners to bless,
My claims I presented, the door of that chapel
Was slanmmed in my face at the Sign of Distress.

I strolled to the priest, to the servant of heaven,
And sued for relief with a wild eagerness;
He prayed that my sins might at last be forgiven,
And thought he had answered my Sign of Distress.

I staggered at last to the home of my mother,
Believing my prayers would meet with success;
But father, and mother, and sister and brother,
Disowned me, and taunted my Sign of Distress.

I lay down to die, as a stranger drew nigh me,
A spotless white lambskin adorning his dress,
My eye caught the emblem, and ere he passed by me,
I gave, as before, the sad Sign of Distress,

With Godlike emotions that messenger hastens
To grasp me, and whisper, "my brother, I bless
The hour of my life when I learned of the Masons,
To give and to answer your Sign of Distress."

Let a sign of distress by a Craftsman be given,
And though priceless to me is eternity's bliss,
May my name never enter the records of heaven,
Should I fail to acknowledge that Sign of Distress.

The Working Tools

by A.S. McBride, c.1920, more information needed!)

Go, work on mind and matter now,
A Master raised to power art thou,
Impress on each and all you can
Wise Heaven's eternal Temple-plan.
As on a trestle-board portray
The great Design, from day to day;
And build, in silence rever'ntly,
The temple of Humanity.

New Poems

Have We Lost...

by Tim Bryce, July, 2005

Have we lost our sense of proportion?
Have we lost our ability —
To laugh at ourselves;
To learn from our mistakes, to adapt to change;
To be honest with ourselves and others;
To practice patience when others would lose their temper;
To help those in distress, not for profit or gain, but to simply lend a helping hand?

Have we lost our common touch?
Have we lost our ability —
To be sincere without looking embarrassed;
To work and walk with all mankind;
To be generous when others are greedy;
To sacrifice so the next generation may prosper;
To love each other and help those in need;
To respect the dignity of all forms of life?

Have we lost our integrity?
Have we lost our ability —
To keep a promise;
To be loyal to our friends, family, and the institutions we belong to and work in;
To be prudent, diligent, temperate, and discreet;
To volunteer to take on a task when others will not;
To keep the faith when others forget to;
To honor our forefathers and family?

Have we lost our sense of character?
Have we lost our ability —
To push on where others say it is pointless;
To stand up to a wrong regardless of the odds;
To be accountable and not be afraid to say, "I made a mistake;"
To respect the rights of others as we would have them respect ours;
To admit defeat graciously and offer sincere congratulations to the victor?

Have we lost our resoluteness?
Have we lost our ability —
To overcome adversity;
To do what is right regardless of the cost;
To remain cool under pressure when others would snap;
To constantly look to improve and seek perfection;
To offer suggestions when others simply criticize or complain;
To dare greatly, to achieve the seemingly impossible, yet missing it time and again?

Have we lost our competence?
Have we lost our ability —
To master our craft;
To challenge the status quo and evolve;
To recognize our deficiencies and limitations and constantly seek self-improvement;
To entertain new ideas and not impede progress;
To be proud of the products and services we produce;
To recognize the customer as king, that quality and service are not hallow words?

Have we lost sight of our place in society?
Have we lost our ability —
To respect our superiors and embolden our subordinates;
To practice common courtesy;
To have the courage to be polite when others are not;
To take instruction and criticism constructively;
To be humble when accepting accolades and recognize those who helped us in our journey?

Have we lost our resolve to live life to the fullest?
Have we lost our ability —
To enjoy the simple pleasures we have, and not those we have not;
To appreciate the blessings of the earth;
To cherish our family and friends?

For if we have, then our story is told, and our lives are lost.

A Sigh of Relief

by Kris DeLong, submitted 3/6/06

As my last act as Master,
I walked out of the lodge in procession.
My heart was beating faster!
Many thoughts were racing in my mind!
Did I fulfill my oaths the previous installation?
Or did I let my brethren down in humiliation.
As I re-entered the lodge to seat myself,
My growing emotions were taking over.
Suddenly it dawned on me when I observed,
My previous officers take their solumn vows,
To support their Lodge and Master.
That without their help, I would have served with disaster!
At that very moment, I shed that feeling of conceit,
And finally relaxed and heaved a sigh of relief!

Weep Not for Me

(To Jacques DeMolay, a true Knight)

by Robert P. May, Sept. 2006

I followed God's will and fought the good fight.
No more can one seek in this life.
My courage was forged in battle and shines in the light.
My honor was honed in the midst of the strife.

Though the fire now burns my flesh, it purifies my soul.
My love of God is simple and true.
No king and his pope can take their toll
And make me bow and say what they construe.

Weep not for me, I pray thee. I am at peace with my God.
Weep for those who tried me and placed me in peril.
Theirs is the sin for on truth they have trod
And the robes of arrogance and greed their apparel.

The flames now rise and me they surround.
I've no regrets, and those that deceived are the cursed.
It's honor I sought and honor I've found.
And in these final moments as I die I see the cross.

Tanned Virgin Hide

by Arthur Peterson, Dec., 2006

The truth of the apron, which we wear with great pride
Is not found on the surface of this tanned virgin hide.
It can not be taught by words printed or spoken,
Nor can it be passed like many a token.

This badge of a Mason must be put to the test
From the day it’s presented to the day that we rest,
And when slips from our hands the tools of our trade
The apron will tell all the progress we’ve made.

Will it be sullied by our words or our deeds,
Or maybe be ragged from unscrupulous creeds?
Our hope should be when we’re laid in the ground
That our apron remained, as pure as when found.

The truth of the apron which we wear with great pride,
In the end,
Is found on the surface of this tanned virgin hide.

Bard Owen Lorion,
on behalf of the Masonic Poets Society