Poet’s Nook: "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley

Nelson Mandela on Robben Island

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.

(Nelson Mandela, perhaps the greatest statesman in modern history, once stated in an interview that during his darkest moments in prison, his spirit was lifted and sustained by the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley, and that he would not have made it through prison if not for the words of this poem.)



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