The Value of Gold

John Boyle O'Reilly 1844 (Dowth) – 1890 (Boston)

There may be standard weight for precious metal,
But deeper meaning it must ever hold;
Thank God, there are some things no law can settle,
And one of these—the real worth of gold.

The stamp of king or crown has common power
To hold the traffic-value in control;
Our coarser senses note this worth—the lower;
The higher comes from senses of the soul.

This truth we find not in mere warehouse learning—
The value varies with the hands that hold;
The worth depends upon the mode of earning;
And this man's copper equals that man's gold.

With empty heart, and forehead lined with scheming,
Men's sin and sorrow have been that man's gain;
But this man's heart, with rich emotions teeming,
Makes fine the gold for which he coins his brain.

But richer still than gold from upright labor—
The only gold that should have standard price-
Is the poor earning of our humble neighbor,
Whose every coin is red with sacrifice.

Mere store of money is not wealth, but rather
The proof of poverty and need of bread.
Like men themselves is the bright gold they gather
It may be living, or it may be dead.

It may be filled with love and life and vigor,
To guide the wearer, and to cheer the way;
It may be corpse-like in its weight and rigor,
Bending the bearer to his native clay.

There Is no comfort but in outward showing
In all the servile homage paid to dross;
Better to heart and soul the silent knowing
Our little store has not been gained by loss.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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John Boyle O'Reilly

John Boyle O'Reilly was an Irish-born poet, journalist and fiction writer. more…

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"The Value of Gold" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 12 Aug. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/22084/the-value-of-gold>.

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