H. C. Mason

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"Sonnets of this Century"

The tarnished coin preserves its heart of gold,
Nor loses worth through honourable use;
Thou, little book, mayst plead no light excuse
For these soiled covers when thy tale is told:
Drear mountains hast thou known, and rested cold
In sterile vales, where no soft airs induce
The stream, night frozen, his trampled bed to sluice
Of countless struggling hoofs the silent mould.
There, where a hundred camp-fires, dying, glow
Pale midst the smoke that rises to the stars,
And Tumult falls asleep, beloved of Mars,
Thou hast "unlocked" for me thy "heart" of woe,
Or joy, for me alone,--no thought of wars,
Of weary marches, of the untiring foe.