Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Poetry Month #22: Invictus by William Ernest Henley

This may be the poster poem for bravely facing your fate.  The history is interesting. 

When he was 16 years old, Henley had to have his leg amputated due to complications arising from tuberculosis. It was when he was recovering in hospital from multiple surgeries on his other leg that he wrote Invictus. An evocation of Victorian stoicism, of maintaining a stiff upper lip and self-discipline in the face of adversity, Invictus might be too much tough love for some, but for others, it provides the impetus to keep going.

It is said that this was Nelson Mandela's favorite poem and this incredible reading by Morgan Freeman will make you understand why.
Click here to listen.

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.


  1. I didn't realize that was the backstory to it. Fascinating!

  2. I didn't either ... this has been a fascinating learning exercise.

  3. Wow, I am so glad I opened this post and went to the site where Morgan Freeman recited "Invictus." So moving....that I instantly forwarded the site to a teacher I know, down in Little Rock, AR. She teaches physics in a school on south side of LR, where many of the students come from lower income, black families. I hope she love this as much as I do.