In honour of #NationalPoetryDay, I’m posting what may very well be my favourite poem, William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus.” Latin for “unconquered” (a language not to be confused with what Dan Quayle once remarked: “I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I have was that I didn’t study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people”), Henley wrote the poem in 1875, only to wait 13 years to have it published.
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.