Invictus: A Poem that shakes even the Mountains

If you haven’t already heard of this inspirational poem than you need to at least read it once. It is one of the most powerful poems about standing against the waves of life. I believe that the reason why the words hits us deep is because of the author and the simpleness of the language. Penned by William Ernest Henley, who devised the verses for this poem when his feet was amputated because of tuberculosis. The Poem goes as follows:

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.

Now that you have read the poem let us break it down, two verses at a time:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole

In his first verse, Henley is stating about the “night” that covers him. This may refer to life in general or you can infer it as something else. Life as a night that covers is a fitting metaphor because it is all encompassing and therefore covers us. In addition, The night itself is really something that is inescapable.In the second  line, Henley states the color of the night he stated in the previous line. It is interesting to see that Henley uses pit in this verse. Henley may be inferring that Life itself is like the distance between poles, and the pit maybe the challenges we face. Or maybe, the pit is a place where we try to put all our hardships away.

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I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

This is an intriguing line, coming from a more agnostic viewpoint. Yet, we see that this author is opening the audience of this poem to people of all faiths who believe in one god or multiple deities. He is giving thanks to whatever higher power exists. The reason why he is giving thanks to any deity that exists is for his unconquerable soul. This relates to The first two lines in which Henley states that he is coming “out of the night”. When he came out, he still had an unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.

The first line can be related to any problem that any person possesses. Whether it is Henley’s amputation, a death of a loved one,  a job that you couldn’t get, or anything that didn’t go your way. We feel the grasp of these things have on our well-being, We feel the clutch of it long after it happens, if we choose to remind ourselves of it. The author, Henley, doesn’t give into this impulse. In the line that comes after this, he states that he hasn’t winced nor cried aloud. He has not even winced at the clutches of circumstance. Henley is stating that no matter how hard the grasp of circumstance was, he didn’t even wince,  That is what we need to be, resolute against life.

Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Chance is the events that you may experience when you are on the road of life. In our eyes, they might be events of chance that should never have happened to us. Yet, even though in their nature they are random, they still hit us pretty hard. Henley uses the word bludgeonings to describe what occurs to us when chance comes our way. Henley didn’t say hits,punches, or even blows. He uses bludgeonings to describe that chance has a very strong impact when it makes contact with us. Yet, does this effect Henley. Even with the bludgeonings, His head is bloody, but unbowed. There is no denying bludgeonings have had a result on the author, yet his head remains unbowed. In this, we can see that it doesn’t matter if life hits us with all it has to offer, what matters if we remain resolute and stand against life.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,

Henley, in the first verse, states that this place he calls life, is but wrath and tears. Either you are mad at it, or you cry over it. To some extent, this can be true. However, it differs from one person to another based on that persons mindset. Henley states that what is beyond life, is a “horror of the shade”. What is the thing that comes after life? It is death. Henley is saying that even though life is a place of wrath and tears, he believes that Death is a horror.

And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

First verse states as the years pass us, we get closer to the inescapable part of our life, which is Death. Sometimes when we think of Death, we get a little discouraged on living life. In addition, as the years go by, hardships will pile on us to the point where we think that we won’t be able to handle it. Therefore, we need to be resolute. Henley is stating at this moment, life finds me unafraid, and in the future life will find me unafraid. This is the resolve that is needed against life. In this moment we hold our ground, and in the future we will hold our ground.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,

As we are walking through life, there are times that we see the road as constricted. Henley is stating that It doesn’t matter how constricted life is, we will keep moving on and we will pass the gate. Life is the Gate. No matter how constricted, we will pass through the Gate. In the second line, there is a reference to a scroll. The scroll is inferred to be sets of laws that we as people follow in everyday life. Henley is stating that no matter what punishments wait if I break a law, I will still be resolute. To Henley, It doesn’t matter.

I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

These last two lines need to be engraved into the minds of every single person. We are the masters of our Fate. It is us who decides who we want to be, and it is us who holds ourselves back. Therefore, when we believe that we can change our fate, then we will be advance through life because we believe that it is us that makes our destiny. I am the captain of my soul. The captain needs to lead and take care of whatever he is in charge of. Therefore, A Captain of a Soul is the most powerful type of Captain because the soul has all these desires that we have to keep in check. In addition, the soul has to persevere against life.

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In conclusion, Invictus is a very powerful poem. Take it into your lives and let it be one of your guiding inspirations against life.I leave you with a reading of the poem done of the poem by Morgan Freeman:

 

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2 thoughts on “Invictus: A Poem that shakes even the Mountains

  1. Veda says:

    Thank you for sharing this poem. 🙂

    • You are very welcome. All I hope for is that you have benefited your own self from reading this post. Thank you for your comment. I really appreciate your input. All I ask for is to pass this on to anyone who you think may benefit from reading this post.Thank you very much.

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