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Saturday, 23 January 2010

Invictus - a Bleak Poem?

A couple of weeks ago, one of my colleagues in the USA posted a poem called Invictus on a business forum. For some reason it has followed me around and at every touch and turn I seem to hear or read about it, especially the last couple of lines. It is by William Ernest Henley (1849-1902) a Gloucestershire poet, critic and author and this is it:

Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole
I thank whatever gods there may be
For my unconquerable soul

In the fell clucth of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed

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

One of my colleagues in the USA said that when he showed it to his girl friend she said “That is a very bleak poem” so he ditched the poem and married the girl.

It is pretty bleak in places but I must say that it does have some resonance for me, especially in the last two lines. We live in a world where the perpetual cry is “Someone should do something about it” or “Why doesn’t the Government sort it out?” or worst of all, “I’m entitled”.

Yes, someone SHOULD do something about it, whatever that may be, and that person is the individual him or herself to take on the responsibility

Until we realise that we are the master of our own fate and the captain of our own soul, then this perpetual harping on wanting other people to sort out our problems will never go away.

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