Saturday, April 17, 2010


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

-- William Ernest Henley, English poet (1849–1903)

Note: Invictus is Latin for "unconquered." It is the title of the poem that inspired Nelson Mandela during the 27 years he spent in prison for fighting against apartheid.


Shiirazi said...

Very apt!

Anonymous said...

I remember having to memorize that in school. The poet himself was suffering from a life-threatening affliction, I recall.

Deb S. said...

Shi: I'm glad you like the poem.

mrwriteon: Your recollection is good. In 1875, Henley wrote Invictus from his hospital bed.

From the time he was a boy, Henley had endured health issues, but that did not stop him from passing the Oxford local exam as a young adult. He went on to have a very productive life.