I wouldn’t say I’m an expert on poetry, or even much of a fan of it. I’ve probably only read a maximum of ten poems in my life, and most of those were forced on me at school. However, I have found myself returning to Invictus time and again over the years.
It was written by William Ernest Henley, who contracted tuberculosis at the age of 12 and had to have his foot amputated at 17, which I can’t imagine would have been very pleasant in Victorian England!
Despite his disability, Henley lived a very active life until his death at 53.
Invictus strikes a chord with me as it serves as a reminder that no matter what life might throw up, nothing can bring me down, nothing can defeat me. The last two lines in particular resonate with me: “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
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.