Invictus (Undefeated)

I first came across these lines while watching the movie Invictus (2009). The poem was originally written by Victorian poet William Ernest Henley in 1875, while lying on a hospital bed at the age of 25 and battling the idea of living with an amputated leg for the entire life ahead of him. The impact these powerful lines have had on me is probably second only to the one caused by another of my favorite poems, ‘The Road Not Taken‘ by Robert Frost.

It has helped me make some important choices in life, especially in times when my mind has been shrouded in conflicting thoughts about the past, and veiled by doubts about the consequences of my actions. I hope I can keep drawing inspiration from it in the future, and I think you too will share the same perspective once you take in these lines.

A recitation of the eternal poem by late Sir Alan Bates

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.

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6 thoughts on “Invictus (Undefeated)

  1. Great clip — a powerful delivery. I was surprised to find the recitation so complementing the poem. Had been meaning to see the movie – now I will make a extra effort to do so:) Thank you for passing on the gem. Nothing like shedding proper perspective on life’s events especially when ‘wallow in my angst’ had been status quo the past few months.

    • Yes, its a very nice clip; in fact, there’s a series of similar poem recitation clips on YouTube made originally as advertisements for the Union Bank of Switzerland. Do check them out. I hope this period of angst and worry in your life goes away soon. The thoughts in the movie and the personality of Nelson Mandela that’s portrayed in it will definitely be helpful 🙂

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