The Stone and the Snake

My Father bade me come, and said, 
    “Ask me for what you need. And spread 
Before me all your heart. Seek me 
    For ev’ry true desire, and see 
If I will ever fail to love 
    You perfectly with treasures of 
My boundless store, my heart. And keep 
    On knocking. Though I do not sleep, 
I have my reasons for delay, 
    And I delight to hear you pray. 
If you should need an anchor for your boat, 
    But, lured by hunger, ask for bread, 
I’ll mark your need, and lest you seaward float, 
    Give you a heavy stone instead. 
Or if you need to drain a viper’s fang, 
    A healing antidote to make, 
But ask for useless fish to ease the pang, 
    I will discern, and give the snake. 
O precious child, think not, because 
    I meet your needs with love by laws 
Beyond your grasp: It is in vain 
    For you to pray, as if the gain 
Of snake and stone were no reply 
    To your desire. Dear Child, your cry 
Does open treasuries, and shake 
    The heavens. I bid you come and take 
These keys, and all my store unlock, 
    My heart. To ask, and seek, and knock.”