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 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.
( In 1875 one of Henley's legs required amputation due to complications arising from tuberculosis. Immediately after the amputation he was told that his other leg would require a similar procedure. He chose instead to enlist the services of the distinguished surgeon Joseph Lister, who was able to save Henley's remaining leg after multiple surgical interventions on the foot.
While recovering in the infirmary, he was moved to write the verses that became "Invictus". This period of his life, coupled with recollections of an impoverished childhood, were primary inspirations for the poem, and play a major role in its meaning. (From Poetry Foundation's biography of the poet).
As much as I want to lay down and let it all be over with, say "Screw this fight!" and just lay in the dirt, I, too have been equipped with an unconquerable soul. But I don't blindly thank "whatever gods may be" because I intimately know the One True God who made me more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37).
God gave me free will, so yes indeed, I am the captain of my soul. As captain, I choose to fix my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith "who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." I can't help myself, no matter how much I want to give up and forget moving on, I'm destined to be an overcomer. I'm destined to be held in the arms of my God. You see, the word says "Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22) That means I'm going to stand because He means for me to be upright.
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