Poetry

‘Invictus’ by William Ernest Henley

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.

william ernest henely
A statue of William Ernest Henley (1849–1903) by Auguste Rodin, 1884–6. (Photo: National Portrait Gallery, London)

William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) was a British poet who worked in the late Victorian era. His most famous poem, Invictus, was written during the recovery of an intense surgery — with the narrow miss of having his second leg amputated — and severe complications of tuberculosis.