Mine and Thine (1904)/An Optimist
" O aged man, pray, if you know,
Now answer me the truth!—
Which of the gifts that the gods bestow
Is the greatest gift of youth?
"O aged man, I have far to fare
By the divers paths of Earth,
Which of the gifts that with me I bear
Is the gift of the greatest worth?
"Is it the might of the good right arm,
Whereby I shall make my way
Where dangers threaten and evils harm,
Holding them still at bay?
"Is it the strength wherewith I shall climb
Where few before have trod—
To the mountain-tops, the peaks sublime
That glow in the smile of the god?
"Is it the never-failing will,
Invincible in might,
Which armed against oppression still
Shall vanquish for the right?
"Or is it the heart, thou aged man!—
The heart, impassioned, strong—
Which shall be blest, as naught else can,
In perfect love ere long?"
The old man smiled: the listening breeze
Grew whist on the sun-lit slope;
The old man sighed: "Ah, none of these!
Youth's greatest gift is its hope."