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National Poetry Month: “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley

William Ernest Henley
(1849-1903)

April is National Poetry Month, and although I am not a faithful reader of poetry, I do have my favorite poets and poems. During the month of April, I will be posting some of those here on the blog, for everyone’s reading enjoyment.

“Invictus” has been my favorite poem for around twenty years now; I don’t remember how old I was when I first read it, but it was sometime during high school. I immediately fell in love with Henley’s words and the way they made me feel. The words of “Invictus” have sustained me throughout some of the toughest times in my life, and to this day I feel empowered whenever I read them.

So without further ado…

Invictus
William Ernest Henley

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 unbow'd.

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.

Do you have a favorite poem? Is there a poem that makes you feel a certain way whenever you read it?

(Poem source: typed from memory; Photo source: Wikimedia Commons)

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Belle Wong (@MsBookish) April 3, 2012, 12:05 pm

    “I am the captain of my soul” – such a beautiful line. So simple but so true.

    • Heather April 3, 2012, 3:55 pm

      Wonderful, isn’t it?

  • Donna April 3, 2012, 3:28 pm

    Unfortunately I live in Illinois where our recently departed (to jail) governor (Blagojevich) used to quote this poem and “If” by Rudyard Kipling ALL THE TIME. He was a smarmy dude. I wish he hadn’t ruined these two poems for me.

    • Heather April 3, 2012, 3:57 pm

      I do believe Timothy McVeigh recited it as his last words before being executed, too. I refuse to let people like that ruin it for me. To me, it says something about the strength of the poem that so many people from different walks of life love it.

  • Vasilly April 3, 2012, 5:25 pm

    I love this poem! Heather, thank you so much for posting it today. I needed it, :-)

    • Heather April 3, 2012, 5:34 pm

      You are so very welcome, Vasilly!

  • Reading Pleasure April 8, 2014, 5:35 am

    It’s a powerful poem, Reading it almost made me feel invincible. :-)

  • Reading Wrap-Up: April 2012 | Between the Covers May 2, 2012, 8:03 am

    […] April was National Poetry Month, and while I planned to blog about some of my favorite poems, Vanity Fair took up so much of my time (and I just…wanted…to get it…done), that I only ended up writing about two of them. If you missed those posts, you can check them out here and here. […]

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