Bro. Rudyard Kipling

The Mother-Lodge

There was Rundle, Station Master,
An’ Beazeley of the Rail,
An’ ‘Ackman, Commissariat,
An’ Donkin’ o’ the Jail;
An’ Blake, Conductor-Sargent,
Our Master twice was ‘e,
With ‘im that kept the Europe-shop,
Old Framjee Eduljee.

Outside — “Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!”
Inside — “Brother”, an’ it doesn’t do no ‘arm.
We met upon the Level an’ we parted on the Square,
An’ I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!

We’d Bola Nath, Accountant,
An’ Saul the Aden Jew,
An’ Din Mohammed, draughtsman
Of the Survey Office too;
There was Babu Chuckerbutty,
An’ Amir Singh the Sikh,
An’ Castro from the fittin’-sheds,
The Roman Catholick!

We ‘adn’t good regalia,
An’ our Lodge was old an’ bare,
But we knew the Ancient Landmarks,
An’ we kep’ ’em to a hair;
An’ lookin’ on it backwards
It often strikes me thus,
There ain’t such things as infidels,
Excep’, per’aps, it’s us.

For monthly, after Labour,
We’d all sit down and smoke
(We dursn’t give no banquits,
Lest a Brother’s caste were broke),
An’ man on man got talkin’
Religion an’ the rest,
An’ every man comparin’
Of the God ‘e knew the best.

So man on man got talkin’,
An’ not a Brother stirred
Till mornin’ waked the parrots
An’ that dam’ brain-fever-bird;
We’d say ’twas ‘ighly curious,
An’ we’d all ride ‘ome to bed,
With Mo’ammed, God, an’ Shiva
Changin’ pickets in our ‘ead.

Full oft on Guv’ment service
This rovin’ foot ‘ath pressed,
An’ bore fraternal greetin’s
To the Lodges east an’ west,
Accordin’ as commanded
From Kohat to Singapore,
But I wish that I might see them
In my Mother-Lodge once more!

I wish that I might see them,
My Brethren black an’ brown,
With the trichies smellin’ pleasant
An’ the hog-darn passin’ down,
An’ the old khansamah snorin’
On the bottle-khana floor
Like a Master in good standing
With my Mother-Lodge once more!

Outside — “Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!”
Inside — “Brother”, an’ it doesn’t do no ‘arm.
We met upon the Level an’ we parted on the Square,
An’ I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!


(From his Collected Verse)

When I was a King and a Mason-
A Master Proven and skilled-
I cleared me ground for a Palace
Such as a King should build.
I decreed and dug down to my levels;
Presently, under the silt,
I came on the wreck of a Palace,
Such as a King had built.

There was no worth in the fashion-
There was no wit in the plan;
Hither and thither, aimless,
The ruined footings ran.
Masonry, brute, mishandled,
But carven on every stone,
” After me cometh a Builder;
Tell him 1, too, have. known.”

Swift to my use in my trenches,
Where my well-planned groundworks grew,
I tumbled his quoins and his ashlars
And cut and rest them anew.
Lime I milled of his
Burned it, slacked it, and spread;
Taking and leaving at pleasure
The gifts of the humble dead.

Yet, I despised not nor gloried
Yet, as we wrenched them apart,
I read in the razed foundation
The heart of that builder’s heart.
As he has risen and pleaded,
So did I understand
The form of the dream he had followed
In the face of the thing lie had planned.

When I was a King and a mason,
In the open noon of my pride,
They sent me a Word from the Darkness-
They whispered and called me aside.
They said, “The end is forbidden.”
they said, “thy use is fulfilled.
Thy palace shall stand as that other’s-
the spoil of a king who shall build.”

I called my men from my trenches,
My quarries, my wharves, and my sheers;
All I had wrought I abandonded
To the faith of the faithless years.
Only I carved on the stone:
” After me cometh a Builder;
Tell him I, too, have known!”

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