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
........................
........................
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# 11 poem on top 500 Poems


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  • Rookie Tiffanie Lau (11/19/2007 7:52:00 AM)

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

    a most convincing way to complete the poem. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Alan Roche (5/21/2007 5:05:00 PM)

    There's no need for such hostility...

    'It matters not how strait the gate' is actually a bibilical reference to a quote attributed to Jesus in the King James Bible:

    'In the 1611 King James Version of Matthew 7: 13-14, following the Golden Rule, Jesus says, 'Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.''

    Henley was agnostic and was saying that in fact it _doesn't_ matter how strait the gate - you and not 'whatever gods may be' are the master of your soul and the captain of your fate.

    Personally I've never come across more beautiful or inspirational words in the English language. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Diowayne Dacayan (1/19/2007 7:15:00 AM)

    This is a very powerful poem and all the words are perfect. Hey Allan Robinson, can you read and UNDERSTAND the full text and the meaning of the words? ! Because every poet and writer (especially good ones) choose their words carefully. You said gate is supposed to be gait, please see the meaning of strait so you'll know why he used gate. Strait is a passage or a canal, so the gate is perfect and the gait you were suggesting means a way of walking. See the purpose of the words and it's connection, compared to your idiotic comment. UNDERSTAND THE MEANING AND ENJOY THE MASTERPIECE! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Foster Blaine (11/29/2006 9:51:00 PM)

    trivial point of interest: this poem served as timothy mcveigh's last words back in 2001. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Mat Good (11/23/2006 1:48:00 PM)

    I first read this powerfull poem in a Reggie Kray biography years ago and have pretty much recited it to myself on a daily basis since. It has helped me through the darkest times of my life, the last verse in particular..The pen is certainly more powerfull than the sword.. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Brian Dorn (7/21/2006 10:36:00 PM)

    The soul is the core of our being... there's little we can do to prevent the physical toll inflicted upon us through time, but only we control the ultimate fate of our soul. A powerful and spiritual message! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Jane Wongso Suhardjo (5/27/2006 12:54:00 AM)

    this poem is really wonderful! !
    it's simple and the choice of words are really simple, but full of deep thoughts
    i know this poem from one tree hill serial, and i found its interesting
    william henley described his feelings purely clear, that we also got into it (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Alan Robinson (4/17/2006 2:45:00 PM)

    Just a simple spelling mistake, I think (No matter how strait the gate) should read
    (No matter how strait the gait)
    All in all a wonderfull uplifting poem. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Ronberge . (7/15/2005 8:52:00 AM)

    This is bar none a poem in a class of its own! ! !
    I consider it my salvation (part of it) in a dark period of my life.
    You can actually draw strenght from reading this.
    an 11.0!

    Ronberge (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Chelsea Judd (3/30/2005 2:44:00 AM)

    it's just so empowering... my favorite poem.... i feel like i'm superman.. or the Queen of the world... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Eric Ratcliffe (6/5/2004 5:55:00 PM)

    Henley was a friend of Stevenson but the latter's marriage caused trouble. They drifted apart. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Erika Leslie Noble (5/26/2004 1:23:00 PM)

    Henley had tuberculosis in his joints and was confined to bed. He wrote this piece as a fight against illness. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Eric Ratcliffe (5/22/2004 3:13:00 AM)

    written during or just after Henley entered Edinburgh hospital, where Joseph Lister the pioneer of antiseptic surgery, saved his remaining foot. Where also he met his future wife, Anna Boyle. (Report) Reply

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