Poem: Invictus – William Ernest Henley

I thought today of one of my favorite poems.  (I was recently called out for using the word “favorite” liberally.  I guess I ought to find better adjectives than just “favorite.”  For example, I could say: a poem that really resonates with me.  Or, a poem I love.  Or, a beautiful poem, etc.)

Anyhow, I leave you with this, may it resonate with you as it does with me although I do believe that we all interpret poetry with our own unique lens and that may not in fact be what the poet herself intended.

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.

I find this poem to mean that life may have its way with us, we may experience a great deal of things in this life and we are subject to chance and fate but how we deal with those things: life/chance/fate/the cards we’re dealt, is what defines our lives.  The word invictus is Latin for unconquerable, which in the first stanza, the poet claims is his soul.  I relate to this because, 1. I believe in the soul as an individual and unique unit and 2. the soul is what makes us who we are.  I have always been one to follow my heart.  I can’t conform or abide by what others/society prescribes (see my post, Living Life Right) and it may be a struggle but at the end of the day, I can be content with myself and my soul knowing that I was true to Sally. I may arrive at the end of my life battered, and “charged with punishments” but I can be comforted by the fact that I was always true to myself.

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