Spoils

When all is over and you march for home
The spoils of war are easily disposed of:
Standards, weapons of combat, helmets, drums
May decorate a staircase or a study,
While lesser gleanings of the battlefield-
Coins, wathes, wedding-rings, gold teeth and such
Are sold anonymously for solid cash.

The spoils of love present a different case.
When all is over and you march for home:
That lock of hair, these letters and the portrait
May not be publicly displayed; nor sold;
Nor burned; nor returned (The heart being too obstinate)-
Yet never dare entrust them to a safe
For fear they may burn a hole through two-foot steel.

by Robert Graves


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