The Mother-Lodge

The Mother-Lodge

A Masonic Poem By: Rudyard Kipling 

 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!

 


Bro. Joseph Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) was an English author and poet. Born in Bombay, British India (now Mumbai), he is best known for his works of fiction The Jungle Book (1894) (a collection of stories which includes Rikki-Tikki-Tavi), Kim (1901) (a tale of adventure), many short stories, including The Man Who Would Be King (1888); and his poems, including Mandalay (1890), Gunga Din (1890), and If— (1910). He is regarded as a major “innovator in the art of the short story”; his children’s books are enduring classics of children’s literature; and his best works speak to a versatile and luminous narrative gift. Kipling was one of the most popular writers in English, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was also a very active in Freemasonry.

 

 

In “Something of Myself” Kipling writes:

“In 1885, I was made a Freemason by dispensation (being under age) in The Lodge of Hope and Perseverance #782 E.C. because the Lodge hoped for a good Secretary. They did not get him, but I helped, and got Father to advise me in decorating the bare walls of the Masonic Hall with hangings after the prescription of King Solomon’s Temple. Here I met Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, members of the Araya and Brahmo Samaj, and a Jewish Tyler, who was a priest and butcher to his little community in the city. So yet another world was opened to me which I needed.”

This explains the “Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!”  We get a little more detail in a letter Kipling wrote in the London Times, dated March 28, 1935:

“In reply to your letter I was Secretary for some years of the Lodge of Hope and Perseverance No. 782, English Constitution which included Brethren of at least four different creeds. I was entered by a member of the Brahmo Samaj (a Hindu), passed by a Mohammedan, and raised by an Englishman. Our Tyler was an Indian Jew. We met, of course, on the level and the only difference that anyone would notice was that at our banquets some of the Brethren, who were debarred by caste rules from eating food not ceremoniously prepared, sat over empty plates. I had the good fortune to be able to arrange a series of informal lectures by Brethren of various faiths, on baptismal ceremonies of their religions.”

Kipling also received the Mark Master degree in a Lahore Mark Lodge and affiliated with a Craft Lodge in Allahabad, Bengal (now Pakistan). Later, in England he affiliated as an honorary member of the Motherland Lodge, No. 3861 in London. He was also a member of the Authors Lodge, No. 3456, and a founder-member of the Lodge Builders of the Silent Cities, No. 4948, which was connected with the War Graves Commission and which was so named at Kipling’s suggestion. Another Masonic association was formed when he became Poet Laureate of the famous Canongate Kilwinning, No. 2 in Edinburgh, the Lodge of which Robert Burns is said to have served in the same office. Enquiry of Brattleboro Lodge, No. 102, in Vermont, discloses no record of Rudyard Kipling having visited during his residence in the community. Years later, however, he accepted a fellowship in the Philalethes Society, an organization of Masonic writers formed in the United States in 1928. The February 1963 issue of The Philalethes, a publication of this Society, recalls that, before the original list of forty Fellows was closed in 1932, Kipling was proposed as the fortieth Fellow. When the Secretary wrote to advise him that they wished to honour the author of My Mother Lodge, The Man Who Would Be King, Kim and other Masonic stories, Kipling accepted.


Disclaimer: I do not know who the original author of this learned biographical discourse was, as I have cobbled it together from a number of sources in print and on the web. However,  it is important to me that the readers understand I am not the original author. I have merely edited and formated the content for presentation purposes.

 

 


 

 

Most  significant sources —

  • http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/rudyardkipling.html
  • Something of Myself, For My Friends Known and Unknown
    Rudyard Kipling: London, MacMillan and Company Limited, 1964.
  • http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/kipling.html
  • Short Talk Bulletin Vol. XLII, October 1964 No.10

As Published in MunnLodge.ORG – eNews, 0902.2 (FEB#2), Special Edition, Volume 2009, No. 2

This entry was posted in Biography and tagged , , , , by Joe Negron. Bookmark the permalink.

About Joe Negron

Brother Joe Negron currently holds the chair of Senior Deacon of Munn Lodge #203 in the 2nd District of Manhattan, under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of New York. Joe acts as Webmaster, Contributor & Chief Editor of http://MunnLodge.ORG. When not in the service of the fraternity or a distressed worthy brother, he is an Internet Architect, Consultant, Entrepaneur, the founder of many web properties and has been involved with web development for over 15 years.

2 thoughts on “The Mother-Lodge

  1. I am not a freemason, although my late father was. He recently passed away, and I have created a website in his memory; http://www.whcook.me.uk on that site I have clip of me reciting The Mother Lodge accompanied by images of Kipling & his life.

    We also head a Remembrance at the masonic Hall in Petersfield, Surrey, where this poem, The Palace and Banquet Night were read.

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