A favorite poem of my favorite high school math teacher

A Prayer
By John Drinkwater (1882–1937)

LORD, not for light in darkness do we pray,
Not that the veil be lifted from our eyes,
Nor that the slow ascension of our day
            Be otherwise.

Not for a clearer vision of the things        5
Whereof the fashioning shall make us great,
Not for the remission of the peril and stings
            Of time and fate.

Not for a fuller knowledge of the end
Whereto we travel, bruised yet unafraid,        10
Nor that the little healing that we lend
            Shall be repaid.

Not these, O Lord. We would not break the bars
Thy wisdom sets about us; we shall climb
Unfetter’d to the secrets of the stars        15
            In Thy good time.

We do not crave the high perception swift
When to refrain were well, and when fulfil,
Nor yet the understanding strong to sift
            The good from ill.        20

Not these, O Lord. For these Thou hast reveal’d,
We know the golden season when to reap
The heavy-fruited treasure of the field,
            The hour to sleep.

Not these. We know the hemlock from the rose,        25
The pure from stain’d, the noble from the base,
The tranquil holy light of truth that glows
            On Pity’s face.

We know the paths wherein our feet should press,
Across our hearts are written Thy decrees:        30
Yet now, O Lord, be merciful to bless
            With more than these.

Grant us the will to fashion as we feel,
Grant us the strength to labour as we know,
Grant us the purpose, ribb’d and edged with steel,        35
            To strike the blow.

Knowledge we ask not—knowledge Thou hast lent,
But, Lord, the will—there lies our bitter need,
Give us to build above the deep intent
            The deed, the deed.

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