― 83 ―

The Song of the Mason

Within an Abbey's sacred pile,
'Neath fretted dome and columned aisle,
A youngster and his father stand,
Viewing its beauties, hand in hand.
And as in awe he looks, the son
Marvels to know how all is done.
"Father,” he said, “I fain would know
How all these wondrous buildings grow.”

The father paused, then answer made:
"I'll tell thee how they grow,” he said.
"Some wealthy man must first engage
To pay the men their daily wage,
Because 'tis surely right and meet
That those who work shall also eat.
Then comes a wondrous skilful man
Who makes designs and draws a plan;
Each column, arch and frieze he draws
In strict accord with nature's laws;
Just as the Great Designer drew

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His plan, symmetrical and true;
So that, when built, the whole design
Both strength and beauty shall combine.

"The quarrymen, with maul and wedge,
With swinging pick, and mighty sledge,
Then drill the holes and lay the train
That rends the towering hills in twain;
Then speaks the blast, whose voice of thunder
Can rive the solid rocks asunder;
They split and hew the riven rocks,
And shape them into massive blocks;
Till tier on tier, rough-hewn they stand,
Waiting the expert craftsman's hand.
The skilful Master Mason, then
(Cunning to judge both stones and men),
Examines keenly every stone,
Selects the good and sound alone,
Distributes all his work with care -
A column here, an arch-stone there -
Directing so that all combine
To harmonise one grand design.

And the hammers and the mallets on the chisels ring,
Through the blocks the ropes are creaking as the derricks swing;

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And each stone more shapely grows
'Neath the skilful craftsman's blows,
And the chips and spawls are flying as the Mason's sing.

"The firm foundation next is made,
Each stone is well and truly laid
(The finest building could not stand
If built on mud or shifting sand).
Then stone on stone is fixed in place,
Each massive, strong, yet full of grace;
Whilst each its separate burden bears,
It helps its mates to carry theirs.
The pillars, rising from the ground,
With sculptured capitals are crowned.
Each product of the craftsman's skill
Has its allotted space to fill,
Just as, on earth, the humblest man
Is part of God's almighty plan.

And the mallets and the hammers on the chisels ring,
And the groaning blocks are creaking as the derricks swing;
And the Master cries 'Well done,’
For his work is well begun,
And the chips and spawls are flying as the Masons sing.

  ― 86 ―
"The arches spring from pier to pier,
The building rises, tier on tier;
The mullioned windows, seen on high,
Are filled with flowing tracery;
From groinéd ceilings angels weep,
And from quaint corners gargoyles peep,
So queer are some, they almost seem
To have been drawn from some mad dream.
Now, cunning men the spandrails fill
With foliage, carved with wondrous skill.
The Master's cheery accents tell
That all is orderly and well;
For, as his men he moves among,
He hums aloud the Mason's song.

Oh, the hammers and the mallets on the chisels ring,
And the heavy stones are rising as the derricks swing,
And the building slowly grows
'Neath the craftsman's skilful blows,
And the chips and spawls keep flying as the Masons sing.

"Yet still more high the building grows,
Each tier some added beauty shows;
A flying buttress, quoin or label,
Coping stone or pointed gable;

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Sculptured bosses, Gothic knees,
Or richly foliated frieze.
While within, the eye may roam
From altar step to stately dome;
Higher still, and yet more high,
Till pinnacles approach the sky.
The gilded finial stands alone,
And seems to kiss the setting sun;
Erect and plumb, it seems to say,
'From earth to heaven I point the way.’

And the mallets and the hammers now no more will ring,
And the blocks will creak no longer as the derricks swing,
For the victory is won,
And the Masons' work is done;
And they know that future ages will their praises sing.”