John Freeman

(1880-1929 / England)

On A Piece Of Silver - Poem by John Freeman

So! the fierce acid licks the silver clean,
Unwonted plain the superscription's seen
Round the cleared head; the metal, virgin-bright,
Shines a mild Moon to the Sun candle-light.
And in these floating stains, this evil murk,
All your change-crowded, moment-histories lurk,
Voluble Silverling! Dost yield me now
Your chance-illumined record, and allow
Prying of idle eyes?... you came a boon
To men as weary as any the weak moon
Shines on but cheers not; you were life in death;
Almost a God to give the prize of breath,
Almost a God to give the prize of joy,
Almost a God--but God! the veriest toy
Child's fingers break, from death to buy back life,
Turn the keen trouble of grief's eager knife,
Or sense-confounded hearts heal of the ancient strife.
O Coin that men have toiled for, lacked and mourned,
Sold life for and sold honour, won and scorned;
O Coin that oft hast been a spinning Fate,
Yet impotent _her_ bitterness to abate;
O Coin that Love contemns, reckoning nought
(But with you, ah, Love's best is sold and bought)--
Heart of the harlot, you; the Judas blood
Hell's devils leech on; you the Price of God!

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Langston Hughes


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Poem Submitted: Friday, September 24, 2010

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