Leigh Gordon Giltner

A Challenge

To have lived, to have loved, to have triumphed!--what more can the
  world bestow?
I stand at the close of the conflict, my foot on the neck of my foe.
Prone in the dust lies the demon Despair, still shouting his shibboleth
To the treacherous Amazon dark-browed Fate, and her grisly comrade, Death.
To have lived! To have felt in my veins the surge of the rich, red tide of
The quickening stir of the strong man's heart that thrills to the sound
  of strife;
To have wrested success from defeat, to have striven, and struggled,
  and won--
Shall this seem a small thing, think you, when the Battle of Ages is done?
To have loved! To have known of all raptures, the rapture supernal, divine,
To have felt the throb of your heart on my heart and the bloom of your
  lips pressed to mine;
To have ranked with the gods on Olympus--myths tell us immortal Jove
Cleft with his swan-wings the blue of the sky for boon of a mortal's
I have lived, I have loved, I have triumphed! Let Death come, or early
  or late!
I hurl my challenging gauntlet full in the face of Fate!
Fate may make wreck of a future--how can she alter the past?
I have tasted the sweets of life's chalice--why shrink from the lees
  at the last?
How should I cavil at aught that shall come--I stand with your head on
  my breast--
I have fought as I might--I have gained _you_, beloved ... to God's
  mercy the rest!
Tho' the heavens darken above me and the sky be shrunk as a scroll,
In the wreck and ruin of riven worlds, should I falter, O Soul of my soul?
Tho' the demon Despair, where he vanquished lies, still utter his
I fling my glove in the face of Fate and smile in the eyes of Death!

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