Verse > Anthologies > George Willis Cooke, ed. > The Poets of Transcendentalism: An Anthology
George Willis Cooke, comp.  The Poets of Transcendentalism: An Anthology.  1903.
By Anna Callender Brackett (1836–1911)
THE TWO best gifts in all the perfect world
    Lie in two close-shut hands;
The hands rest even on the outstretched knees
Like those stone forms the ’wildered traveller sees
    In dreamy Eastern lands.        5
I reach to grasp: but lo! that hand withdraws,—
    The other forward glides;
The silent gesture says: “This is for thee,
Take now and wait not ever, listlessly,
    For changing times and tides.”        10
I take—Thou canst not say I took it not!
    The record readeth fair.
I take and use, and come again to crave,
With weary hands and feet, but spirit brave—
    The same thing lieth there.        15
So many times! ah me! so many times!
    The same hand gives the gift;
And must I, till the evening shadows grow,
Still kneel before an everlasting No,
    To see the other lift?        20
I ask for bread; Thou givest me a stone;
    Oh, give the other now!
Thou knowest, Thou, the spirit’s bitter need,
The day grows sultry as I come to plead
    With dust on hand and brow.        25
Ah fool! Is he not greater than thy heart?
    His eyes are kindest still.
And seeing all, He surely knoweth best;
Oh, if no other, know the perfect rest
    Of yielding to His will.        30
Perchance—He knows—canst thou not trust His love?
    For no expectant eyes
Of something other, full of wild desire
Can watch the burning of the altar fire
    Of daily sacrifice.        35

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