I would say that the majority of us have heard the last few lines of this chosen poem sometime in our lives. And another portion of those didn’t know what they came from. William Ernest Henley was a poet, critic and editor during the Victorian age. His name loomed large in literary circles. Henley, who had a leg amputated in his youth due to bone tuberculosis, was the inspiration for Stevenson’s Long John Silver in Treasure Island in 1883. This is William Ernest Henley’s poem, INVICTUS.

William Ernest Henley


by 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.