Last night I discovered a poem via twitter. Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. It immediately caught the eye for that reason alone. Upon further inspection I realised that there was a certain something about the words which captivated me from the outset. Words which standing alone, make for powerful reading, when taken in context with the story behind them become something of a literary atom bomb.
I have always had a passion for words. My music collection mainly comprises of songwriters who write from their guts, or lyricists which make me laugh. It’s been a long time since I was able to stomach the generic sterile music which is omnipresent on the tv or the internet at any given hour. For me music sits on the throne which poetry has long since abdicated. The very best songs grab you by the balls and bring a tear to your eye. From time to time you can discover a song which the songwriter has lived. The authenticity it lends is immeasurable.
William Ernest Henley was born in 1849. When he was 12 he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. When he was 17 he lost a leg to T.B in a time when medical care was comparatively primitive. Incredibly he lived until he was 53. In 1875 he wrote the following poem which was later named Invictus. I shan’t ponder over the meaning of Invictus, as I would rather let Invictus speak for itself.
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.
N.B – Thanks to @ibbydassantos for introducing me to Henley.