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(1849 - 1902 / Gloucester / England)


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
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Comments about this poem (Apparition by William Ernest Henley )

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  • Scott Gowdy (12/17/2009 2:07:00 AM)

    i direct my comments to Basra who feels this is a god-less poem and that the last two lines of this poem show that. I know that God lives, that He loves us, and that we are His children. I know He is ' the author and finisher of our faith' and has a plan for us. And one of the most critical elements of His plan was agency, the freedom to choose. Through one of his prophets of old God said, in reference to Adam and Eve while in the Garden of Eden when agency was given to man,

    'Wherefore, he [God] gave commandments unto men, they [Adam and Eve] having first transgressed the first commandments as to things which were temporal, and becoming as Gods, knowing good from evil, placing themselves in a state to act, or being placed in a state to act according to their wills and pleasures, whether to do evil or to do good-'

    We are all agents unto ourselves. We all can choose. One of the most famous scriptures in the Bible is, 'Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you.' God does not force anything upon us. He gives because we choose, because we ask. We truly are 'the masters of our fate and captains of our souls'

    And in relation to the line in the poem 'I thank whatever gods may be' - it sounds like he doesnt know for sure but he is at least acknowledging something greater than himself and expressing gratitude which, for those who believe in god, understand this concept very well.

    This poem gives me greater strength and optimism. We can all interpret the poem the way we like. As a believer in God, I do not feel this is a 'god-less' poem.

    2 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Joe Edwards (12/17/2009 1:10:00 AM)

    Like John Smith, I created an account just to add my two cents worth and here it is. You must understand when and under what circumstances this poem was written, He was in a hospital, they amputated is leg just below the knee and he wasn't well. When he regained his strenghth and knew he wasn't going to die, he wrote the poem from his hospital bed.

    Poems need to be interpreted and understood from when it was written, the economic and social climate, and the circumstances of the author.

    I don't care about the god issue. I'm happy he wrote a marvelous poem of optimism and strength. We are responsible for our lives and how we live it. People can lie in bed and just give up and die. Others fight.

    The poem and Elton John's song 'I'm still standing' was my theme song recovering from open heart surgery.

    And these Christians who take offense at everything need to lighten up.

    'nuff said.

  • John Smith (12/17/2009 12:47:00 AM)

    I never do this I but created an account just because I am so shocked that you guys are still fighting about this. I think we learned in grade school that 300 people could read a poem and you would get 300 different responses about the meaning. Why don't you guys just read the poem and embrace it for what you think it means who cares what any of you say it means your wrong because there is no right answer.

  • Jon Harris (12/16/2009 11:50:00 PM)

    I find the direction this comment thread has taken to be extremely distasteful. Sean Taylor, the immaturity of your ill though out claims astounds me. I would advise you to keep your opinions on such important matters to yourself; especially without any research. By generalizing EVERY 'god follower' as a pompous pig you significantly decrease the credibility of your statement.
    All of that aside, I wish to provide my own input on this poem. I'll add that this is my opinion, nothing more. I do not think the author was making a religious statement about there being a god or not. Let's not focus on if this poem is 'god-less' or not. This poem is simply an optimistic outlook on human nature. The fact that we can be 'masters of our fate' and 'captains of our soul' is truly inspiring. Being a master of one's own fate relates directly back to the great 'American Dream' that helped establish the United States during it's founding. We all have the power to become someone who can benefit our world in a variety of ways.
    I believe that the overall tone is to make the most of our struggles and problems. Just like pruning a tree helps it grow stronger and produce better fruit, when people overcome problems they grow.

  • Sean Taylor (12/16/2009 10:25:00 PM)

    I still find it crazy today that people have to take away from what is clearly a fantastic poem, with deep, powerful meaning, on the justification of religion.
    I love the fact its a god-less poem. Im far more likely to turn to this poem for help in times of need than the bible.

    Sorry Basra.....god is no more real than Harry Potter, or Elmo, and I take more life lessons from both.

    I really struggle with the pomposity of you arrogant 'god followers'who try and take credit for all beauty, creativness and morality.
    If this poem really offends your fragile religious values, then I guess 90% of things in this world do to.

    He offers people a choice, to take life and run with it.

  • Basra Elmi (12/16/2009 8:35:00 PM)

    Crawford lol I resent that robust accusation of me having no free will. I do have a free will, and i choose it so to believe in God. Is that a crime? In fact, Jeff your point of rebuttal only enforced my position, which is, this poem is indeed a God-less poem, and the author certainly an agnost or at worst-an athiest.

    I am the master of my fate,
    I am the captain of my soul'

    Clearly this above two stanzas escaped my notice before. The author basically is distastefully taking credit of him fate and soul, as if he was God himself. I should have seen that. I guess it took a none believer like you Jeff to notice this. If you meant to convince me i lacked free will- but it only re-enforced me to believe that God is the master of my fate, the captain of my soul. The poets arrogance to assert he is the master and captain of his soul is in infact-certifiably blasphamous.
    Can we agree to disagree? Must you make me join you and your infamous atheist.....Christopher hitchesn in your heresey camp? I think not.

    Basra. Minneapolis.

  • Mark Earnest (12/15/2009 11:20:00 PM)

    To Jeff-
    Excellent response to Basra. You nailed it.

  • Jeff Crawford (12/14/2009 10:42:00 PM)

    To Basra Elmi,
    You are not the master of your fate,
    You are not the captain of your soul!
    Surely you have the intelligence to accept the profound words of this poem. If you are blinded by religious supersition you will never achieve the last two lines of this poem. Don't you have any free will?

  • Benny Pinaula (12/14/2009 12:29:00 AM)

    Hafa Adai from Guam,

    It's funny how as an adult how this poem means so much more today then when I was in high school. After watching the movie, I can say that my soul was moved and my fate so much brighter. Life is truly epic!

  • Basra Elmi (12/13/2009 6:55:00 PM)

    also finished watching the movie, I thought it was amazing. Morgan Freeman and Matt Dammon were fantastic. I was intriguied by the poem featured in the movie and googled it. I was somewhat delivered to this website and although i appreciate and take note of the vast positive comments about the poem, i had to beg to differ. The poem was no doubt, inspiring, hopeful, and strong in its stance. But the third line disturbed me and made me not like it anymore.

    ' I thank whatever gods may be'

    The pluralarity of 'gods' and the doubtful 'whahtever may be' suggests a connotation of ungodliness and atheisism. Based on the ungodliness stance of the author i choose not to like it.

    Basra Minneapolis

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