William Ernest Henley

(1849 - 1902 / Gloucester / England)

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

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Monday, August 18, 2014

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  • Rookie - 374 Points John Richter (10/21/2014 2:16:00 PM)

    From absolute darkness, the horrid travels through life, bludgeonings, and horrible happenings, he remains grateful to have returned in whole, and to remain unafraid.... I am the captain of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.... Oh how incredibly powerful this! I don't know who recorded this reading - but it was absolutely riveting! Thank you. (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 4,319 Points Frank Avon (9/16/2014 5:13:00 PM)

    I was forced to memorize this poem in ninth grade. Like other poems we were assigned, this one turned me against poetry for years. Until I discovered Kahlil Gibran and then John Keats. Still, sixty years later, this poem represents to me what poetry should NOT be: a high-flown, abstract message spoken in bouncy rhythms and rhymes. No one, in the end, is the master of his fate or the captain of his soul: and no matter how strong and courageous, no one is always unbowed; no one can honestly always say, I have not winced or cried aloud. Give me Langston Hughes' Mother to Son for its honesty, simplicity, and linguistic authenticity: Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.... (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,572 Points Walterrean Salley (9/14/2014 11:41:00 PM)

    Mr Henley has done an incredible job with this poem. Among the favorites that I committed to memory years ago. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 639 Points Sagnik Chakraborty (9/11/2014 5:15:00 PM)

    An all-time favourite of mine, the poem's about indomitable courage in the face of all odds. Incidentally, after I read it for the first time, it got etched in my psyche in such a way that I adopted its title, meaning 'unvanquished' in Latin, as a part of my Email ID.
    I'll always love this magnificent verse by Henley. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 639 Points Brent Cohick (8/2/2014 4:38:00 PM)

    Ok, I find it very disheartening, the absolute darkness of this piece. To look into the beauty of creation and not be able to see a creator, one must simply be blind. it's like gazing at a Rembrandt and saying that's a blank canvas with some chicken scratch on it. To believe that all of this is formed at chance? I am proud to say I'm not stubborn enough to have never bowed my head to God. I am humbled by what my Master did for me. His name is Jesus. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 13 Points Ben Miller (5/1/2014 9:27:00 PM)

    He displaces perfectly contradicting theories of being a tool of fate (when he speaks of gods controlling his abilities) or having the choice in your life. Also he shows in the last paragraph that even in the uncontrollable situations that are presented to you, How charged the punishments of the scroll, you are still the captain of your soul. Finally he shows that the ability to think critically about how much control you have over your own life proves that you have at least basic ability. (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 4,604 Points * Sunprincess * (4/27/2014 12:32:00 AM)

    ......an amazing poem....love these lines
    ~I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.~
    truly everyone is the captain of their own soul
    through space and time, therefore we actually
    do travel alone.... and not knowing
    exactly when, where or what time our journey
    shall come to an end....is the greatest surprise
    life shall give us.... (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 4,489 Points Lorraine Margueritte Gasrel Black (4/1/2014 11:28:00 AM)

    One of my favorite poems.It speaks of free will and independence the first time I heard it read was a poetry convention several years ago...Poets certainly have mighty voices... (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 4,489 Points Lorraine Margueritte Gasrel Black (4/1/2014 11:28:00 AM)

    One of my favorite poems.It speaks of free will and independence the first time I heard it read was a poetry convention several years ago...Poets certainly have mighty voices... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Jagruti Mohapatra (3/26/2014 8:54:00 AM)

    It gives me strength to endure all the pain life throws at me. I read this poem when I am feeling down or lost or hopeless. It gives me courage to stand strong and work hard to achieve my dream. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Kepa Gadu (3/25/2014 4:28:00 PM)

    just as Daniel implied I am inspired that you able to earn $8854 in a few weeks on the computer. site here http: //tr.im/4zzny (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Cassaries Johnson (3/6/2014 11:42:00 PM)

    A nice, simple poem about controlling one's own destiny. If only more people would actually control their lives instead relying on other people or a divine being to do it for them. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Yolo Mcswaggington (3/6/2014 8:36:00 PM)

    This poem is about a man and his ugly wife. They both like to butt-bash their blubbery asses together in a mid-air butt-five. The sad part of this poem is that they have indigestion and whenever they smack their big butts together, they shit everywhere and let the poop splatter all over the place. They also fart which makes everything smell really bad. If I were William Henley I would buy the man and his wife some butt plus so that that they can't poop everywhere.

    However, this poem represents how people shit in their cubicles with their pants all the way down on the floor. The surprising part of this poem is how they whistle while shitting and also fart for like about 20 seconds...

    P.S. Don't forget to fart after you read this... Already Reported Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Yolo Mcswaggington (3/6/2014 8:35:00 PM)

    This poem is about a man and his ugly wife. They both like to butt-bash their blubbery asses together in a mid-air butt-five. The sad part of this poem is that they have indigestion and whenever they smack their big butts together, they shit everywhere and let the poop splatter all over the place. They also fart which makes everything smell really bad. If I were William Henley I would buy the man and his wife some butt plus so that that they can't poop everywhere.

    However, this poem represents how people shit in their cubicles with their pants all the way down on the floor. The surprising part of this poem is how they whistle while shitting and also fart for like about 20 seconds...

    P.S. Don't forget to fart after you read this... Already Reported Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Aaaqil Medalla (2/17/2014 2:34:00 AM)

    Soccer is so fun,
    I kick the ball and run,
    I score and it is now 1 to none,
    I can't believe on what ive done,
    Times up we won! (Report) Reply

Read all 256 comments »

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