Saturday, July 27, 2019

Invictus (Unconquered) by William Ernest Henley

Invictus was written by English poet ‘William Ernest Henley’ in 1875. Poem was initially published without a title. This apt title was added by ‘Arthur Quiller-Couch’ when he included this poem in ‘Oxford book of English verse’ in 1900. 

This poem’s last two lines became very famous, and often quoted by politicians, public speakers and major characters in multiple movies. Poem represents tragedies in author's life and how he went through it. When Henley was 16 years old, his left leg was amputated due to TB. Later he was told that same procedure is required for his other leg as well. He refused that option and travelled to Edenborough to meet famous English surgeon Sir Joseph Lister, who is a pioneer in antiseptic surgery. After multiple surgeries Lister was able to save Henley's leg. This poem was written by author when he was recovering from surgeries.


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.

- William Ernest Henley

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