Invictus by William Ernest Henley


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 (1849-1903)

2 thoughts on “Invictus by William Ernest Henley

  1. I think it’s fantastic that this poem inspired Nelson Mandela through his long imprisonment under apartheid (at least according to Clint Eastwood.)

  2. No matter how many whispered regrets or urges to abandon the deck of one’s life even for that passing nanosecond of inevitability, the goal is to steer on sturdily. Before that happy occurrence materialises, we must uncover the most adamant nature of our particular selves. Pairing it down to unenforced essentials, dropping the spectral spray of guises to locate the innermost vibrant core. That’s the adventure. Mapping out who we are, what we want beyond societal proclivities. Unnegotiated personhood.

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