A Challenge

The luminous pages of all story prove
High love hath ending in heroic woe;
Sharp-fanged and fell, dark death doth ever go
In waiting for the wandering feet of love.
And if that fate be shunned, love's footsteps move
Down the dull slope that leads to regions low
Where the thick pulse of ease and wont beats slow
As in some dusk and poppy-haunted grove.
Shall we accept, or shall we not defy,
Entrenched in our fast love, this augury?
Never shall I less than adore thee, Sweet!
No use, my queen, shall dim thy radiant crown.
And if, in envy, death shall strike me down,
Let his dart find me here, kissing thy feet!

by John Hay

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