There is a poem that is significant in the history of Freemasonry. It is the earliest existing account that has survived the ages with mention to the Freemasons. It is a duplicate of an earlier work. The poem is titled The Regius Poem but is also known by the title of ‘the Halliwell Manuscript’. It was composed circa in 1390 and has immense historical value.
The Regius Poem is thought of as delineating requirements or some roles and duties to be fulfilled by members of the Freemasonry. This is often included in a collection of documents referred to as the Old Charges. It is made of 64 vellum pages – which is parchment often made from calf skin, and composed in rhyming couplets.
The beginning of the poetic work starts by a mention of Euclid and his development of Geometry in the ancient world and the spreading of it. Following are fifteen points laid down that refer to moral exercise, on how to act and what behaviors to avoid. In short, virtues to aspire to and carry out. There are then another fifteen points which are laid down in a similar suit, but aimed toward craftsmen.
The poem has been recorded in various catalogues and has been passed down generations. It was at one point in the possession of the Royal Library up until it was given up to the British Museum in the year 1757.
The poem became more highly regarded after it was published in a Freemasonry article by James Halliwell in the year 1840.
The poem also states that Freemasonry was introduced to England in the time period of Kind Athelstan during the 900s ADE.
The length of the poem is 794 lines and in its original form written in Old English, although modern translations are easily available. Despite its age, the poem is still hailed by Freemasons as applicable today – particularly in regards to moral, ethical and spiritual concerns.