Invictus

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 punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Written by English poet William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) and published in 1875, originally it didn’t have a title (as you know, invictus is Latin for ‘unconquered’. When he was 12, Henley fell victim to tuberculosis of the bone. A few years later, the disease progressed to his foot. The only way to save his life was to amputate directly below the knee when he was only 17. It’s a fair bet that stoicism inspired him to write this poem.

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