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Masonic Service Association of North America

Emessay Notes January 2009

Robert Burns at 250: Poetry, Politics & Performance

Library of Congress Symposium, February 24 & 25, 2009

To mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, in collaboration with the Scottish Government, will present a free public symposium on Burns’ life and work, as well as his impact on America and American culture.

Leading scholars, poets, and musicians from Scotland and the United States will join experts from the Library of Congress in the two-day event. The symposium will be produced by the Library’s American Folklife Center (AFC), in cooperation with the Library’s Center for the Book and the Poetry and Literature Center.

Robert Burns at 250: Poetry, Politics, and Performance will be held in the Mumford Room of the Library’s James Madison Memorial Building. The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited, so registration is recommended. Registration information will be available shortly. For further information contact: Nancy Groce, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress; Phone: 202-707-1744; Email: [email protected]

Robert Burns was a member of St. David’s Lodge #174, Tarbolton, Scotland later joining St. James Lodge #178, and was also associated with the celebrated Lodge Canongate, Kilwinning. He wrote many poems with Masonic reflections.

Masonic Postal Chess Club

We received word from Bro. Dennis Plymette, of Mechanicsburg, PA, telling us about the Masonic Postal Chess Club. Since 1975, Master Masons have joined the postal chess club and play by mail—and now email—with Masons in all 50 states. He says membership includes both beginners and experienced players. While many members engage in one game at a time, some play several games simultaneously.

All club officers are volunteers and yearly dues are $20. If you would like to join, or merely to get more information, contact Bro. Plymette at 304 Longmeadow Street, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 or email him at [email protected]

(Source: The Northern Light - Nov, 2008)

Robert Burns - "Lament for James, Earl of Glencairn"

Still without funds, Burns decided to seek his fortune in Jamaica. But just before he was to leave he received a letter from a Dr. Blacklock. Burns was urged to go to Edinburgh to arrange for a second printing of his poems. This proved to be a turning point in his life. There he visited Canongate Kilwinning Lodge and met Lord Glencairn. Glencairn liked Burns and obtained a position for him in the Excise. Most important, Glencairn persuaded members of the nobility to subscribe to the works of Burns.

It was said of the Edinburgh editions of Burns’ Poems: “Surely never a book came out of a more Masonic laboratory.” The author, printer, illustrator, and publisher were all Freemasons.

Three years later Lord Glencairn died, and Burns wrote his Lament for James, Earl of Glencairn. Many consider the last verse of this elegy the finest Burns had ever written:

The bridegroom may forget the bride
Was made his wedded wife yestreen;
The monarch may forget the crown
That on his head an hour has been;
The mother may forget the bairn
That smiles sae sweetly on her knee;
But I’ll remember thee, Glencairn,
And a’ that thou hast done for me!

(Quote from the book – The Mystic Tie by Allen Roberts)


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