7 Mar 2010


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.

This short poem by the English poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903). It was written in 1875 from his hospital bed and first published in 1888.

At the age of 12 Henley contracted tuberculosis of the bone… later losing his leg from below the knee. He was the inspiration for RL Stevenson’s Long John Silver in Treasure Island.

His daughter, Margaret Emma Henley, was the inspiration for the creation of the name Wendy by JM Barrie in his Peter Pan.

Whilst Invictus was defiant of his fate, his poem Margaritae Sorori was seen to be acceptance.

A late lark twitters from the quiet skies:
And from the west,
Where the sun, his day's work ended,
Lingers as in content,
There falls on the old, gray city
An influence luminous and serene,
A shining peace.

The smoke ascends
In a rosy-and-golden haze. The spires
Shine and are changed. In the valley
Shadows rise. The lark sings on. The sun,
Closing his benediction,
Sinks, and the darkening air
Thrills with a sense of the triumphing night--
Night with her train of stars
And her great gift of sleep.

So be my passing!
My task accomplish'd and the long day done,
My wages taken, and in my heart
Some late lark singing,
Let me be gather'd to the quiet west,
The sundown splendid and serene,

This post was partly inspired by the movie Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.