October 31, 2013

Elmore: Masons, you are at home

When the corner stone was first laid out for the new Masonic Temple in Crawfordsville, Indiana, local poet James B. Elmore was inspired to write a poem for the building in progress. His poem, "Laying the Corner Stone," was written October 31, 1901, the month after the actual cornerstone had been laid:

Workmen, lay the stone;
     Lay it good and firm,
That Masons, as they come,
     May of our wisdom learn.

Love is the tie that binds
     The hearts of mortal man;
With compass and with square
     We lay this stone so grand.

Master, thou hast wrought
     A work that'll last for aye.
This is the purpose sought;
     Your love cast not away.

God grant this temple rise
     Heavenward with gilded dome.
Go seek and win the prize.
     Masons, you are at home.

We consecrate to-day
     This noble work of art;
We must our homage pay,
     Binding our hands and heart.

O God, to thee we pray;
     Let friendship be our creed.
Cast, cast none away;
     But help, help those in need.

Born and raised on a farm near Alamo, Indiana (the same town as fellow poet Noah J. Clodfelter), Elmore became a teacher but admitted, "It always seemed to be a part of my nature to write poetry." He also admitted he never rewrote his poems once he finished them, saying too much of the original feeling was lost in every edit.

The Masonic Lodge in Crawfordsville counted among its members best-selling author Lew Wallace. When the building was completed in 1904, Wallace spoke at its dedication. The chapter in the town had started some 60 years earlier and the building still stands today. Despite the poetic imagery, the lodge has never had a golden dome.

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