Lodge Burns Dundonald
A Site belonging to a Lodge with "Burns" Dundonald No.1759 as its name and number, would not be complete without a page dedicated to him, we therefore dedicate this section to his memory.
Freemasonry has no greater name than Robert Burns.
(THE Author of this piece is unknown)
If there are those who question his investiture as Poet Laureate of the Canongate Kilwinning Lodge, owing to the absence of certain documentary evidence, no one denies that he was, and is, the greatest poet of Freemasonry, the singer alike of its faith and its friendship, its philosophy and its fun, its passion and its prophecy. Nay, more; he was the Laureate, of the hopes and dreams of the lowly of every land.
Higher tribute there is none for any man than to say, justly, that the world is gentler and more joyous for his having lived; and that may be truly said of Robert Burns, whose very name is an emblem of pity, joy, and the magnetism of Brotherly Love. It is therefore that men love Burns, as much for his weakness as for his strength, and all the more because he was such an un-
In a tiny two-
At the age of twenty-
On July 27th, 1784, Burns was elected Depute Master of St. James Lodge, Tarbolton, a position which he held until St. John's Day, 1788.
He was made an honorary member of St. John Lodge No. 22, Kilmarnock, on October 26th, 1786. Major William Parker, the Master of St. John Lodge, became a great friend of Burns, and subscribed for thirty-
"Ye Sons of Auld Killie, assembled by William, To follow the noble vocation;
Your thrifty old mother has scarce such another, To sit in that honoured station.
I've little to say, but only to pray, As praying's the ton of your fashion;
A prayer from the muse, you may well excuse, Tis seldom her favorite passion.
Ye powers who preside, o're the wind and the tide, Who mark each element's border;
Who formed this frame with beneficent aim, Whose sovereign statute is order;
Within this dear mansion may wayward contention, Or withered envy ne're enter;
May secrecy round be the mystical bound, And Brotherly Love be the center."
The minutes of this meeting concluded as follows :
"Robert Burns, Poet, from Mauchline, a member of St. James, Tarbolton, was made an Honorary Member of this Lodge."
This was the first Lodge to distinguish Burns with the designation "Poet," and to honour him with honorary membership.
Besides being a faithful and enthusiastic attendant upon the meetings of his own Lodge, Burns was a frequent visitor at Lodge when away from home. It is said that, with a very few exceptions, all his patrons and acquaintances were members of the Fraternity.
Burns is described at this time as nearly five feet ten inches in height, and of a form agile as well as strong; his high forehead shaded with black, curling hair, his eyes large, dark, full of bright intelligence, his face vividly expressive. His careless dress and untaught manners gave an impression of coarseness at first, but this was forgotten in the charm of his personality, and his face in repose had a calm thoughtfulness akin to melancholy. Full of fun and fire, affable and the best of good company, his superior mind did not make him supercilious, and he loved more than all else, a festival that was half frolic and a feast where joy and good will were guests.
Alas, drinking was a habit in the Scotland of those days, to a degree we can hardly imagine, as much in the Church as in the Lodge; and it made the bitter tragedy of Robert Burns. Truth obliges us to admit that his moral failure was early and pitiful, due alike to his environment and to a fatal frailty of which made him fitful, unstable, and a prey to every whim of fancy and of passion. It is an awful risk to be endowed with the genius of a Burns; it digs deep pitfalls for the man to whom it is given. Yet, if in his later years he was a degraded man of genius, he was never a man of degraded genius. The poison did not enter his song. Allan Cunningham was right when he said: "Few men had so much of the Poet in them, and few poets so much of the man; the man was probably less pure than he ought to have been, but the poet was pure and bright to the end."
So, and naturally so, men are willing to hide with a veil of charity the debris of character scattered along the starry path of Burns. On reading his poems Byron exclaimed: "What an antithetical mind! Tenderness, roughness, delicacy, coarseness, sentiments, sensuality; dirt and deity -
"Then at the balance let's be mute,
We can never adjust it;
What's done we partly may compute,
But know not what's resisted."
By the same token, no great poet whose name is linked with our Craft ever owed more to Freemasonry, or gave more to it. More intimately than any other he was identified with its life, its genius and its ideals. Its teachings moved his thought; its spirit inspired his song; its genius nurtured that love of freedom and Fraternity which he set to everlasting music. So much is this true, that it remains a marvel to this day how Shairp could have written a biography of Burns without once mentioning his membership in the Craft. In the gentle air of Freemasonry he found refuge from hardship and heaviness of spirit; and its fellowship served to shelter him from the poisoned arrows of petty bigots who were unworthy to untie his shoes -
Surely, if ever of any one, it can be said of Robert Burns, that his soul goes marching on. He was the harbinger of the nineteenth century, the poet of the rights and reign of the common people, whom, it has been said, God must love because he made so many of them. The earth was fresh upon the tomb of George Washington when that century was born; it discovered Lincoln and buried him with infinite regret. But its triumphant melody first found voice in the songs of Robert Burns, as the greek singer inspired Patriarch with the fire which kindled the Revival of Learning, and out of the inertia of the Middle Ages created modern times. So when Taine, the French critic, came to account for that age he found that it's spirit "Broke First in the Scotch Peasant, Robert Burns." -
There are those who dream of a vague blur of cosmopolitism, in which all local loyalties, all heroic national genius shall be merged and forgotten. Not so Robert Burns. He was distinctively a national poet, striking deep roots in his native soil, and, for that reason, touching a chord so haunting that it echoes forever. This at least is true; a man who is not deeply rooted somewhere -
Because he was so deeply rooted in the soil of his own land; because he was so sweetly, sadly, joyously -
This is no time to deal in literary criticism -
No wonder Burns was the best beloved poet of Lincoln, as much for his democracy as for his humour, his pathos, and his rich humanity. With him social rank was but a guinea stamp, a bit of tawdry tinsel alongside the native nobility of manhood. He honoured a man for his worth, not for his wealth. For the snob, for the fop, he had genuine contempt. If he flayed the selfish pride of the rich, it was not from envy -
Still, had the Cotter's dog given way to self-
Such was the spirit of Robert Burns, a man passionate and piteous, compact of light and flame and loveliness, capable of withering scorn of wrong, quickly shifting from the ludicrous to the horrible in his fancy, poised between laughter and tears -
"He haunts his native land As an immortal youth; his hand Guides every plow.
His presence haunts this room tonight, A form of mingled mist and light
From that far coast."
The Master's Apron
Ther's mony a badge that's unco braw ;
Wi ribbon, lace and tape on ;
Let kings an' princes wear them a' ,
Gie me the masters apron!
The honest craftsman's apron,
The jolly freemason's apron,
Be he at hame or roam afar,
Before his touch fa's bolt and bar,
The gates of fortune fly ajar,
Gin he but wears the apron!
For wealth and honour, pride and power
Are crumbling stanes to base on;
Fraternity suld rule the hour,
And ilka worthy mason!
Each free accepted mason,
Each ancient crafted mason!
Then brithers let a halesome sang
Arise your friendly ranks alang .
Guid wives and bairnies blithely sing
To the ancient badge wi' the apron string
That is worn by the master mason!
Ye Sons of old Killie
Ye sons of old Killie, assembled by Willie,
To follow the noble vocation;
Your thrifty old mother has scarce such another
To sit in that honoured station.
I've little to say, but only to pray,
As praying's the ton of your fashion;
A prayer from the muse you may well excuse,
'Tis seldom her favourite passion.
Ye powers who preside o'er the wind and the tide,
Who marked each element's border;
Who formed this frame with benificent aim,
Whose sovereign statute is order;
Within this dear mansion may wayward contention
Or withered envy ne'er enter;
May secrecy round be the mystical bound,
And brotherly love be the centre.
Adieu! a heart-
Dear Brothers of the Mystic Tye!
Ye favoured, ye enlighten'd few,
Companions of my social joy!
Tho' I to foreign lands must hie,
Pursuing Fortune's slidd'ry ba';
With melting heart and brimful eye,
I'll mind you still, tho' far awa'.
Oft have I met your social band,
And spent the cheerful, festive night:
Oft, honour'd with supreme command,
Presided o'er the Sons of Light;
And by that Hieroglyphic bright,
Which none but Craftsmen ever saw!
Strong Mem'ry on my heart shall write
Those happy scenes, when far awa'.
May Freedom, Harmony, and Love,
Unite you in the Grand Design,
Beneath th' Omniscient Eye above-
The glorious Architect Divine,
That you may keep th' Unerring Line,
Still rising by the Plummet's Law,
Till Order bright completely shine,
Shall be my pray'r when far awa.
And you, farewell! whose merits claim
Justly that Highest Badge to wear:
Heav'n bless your honour'd, noble name,
To Masonry and Scotia dear!
A last request permit me here
When yearly ye assemble a',
One round, I ask it with a tear,
To him, the Bard that's far awa'