Treasure Island

William Ernest Henley

(1849 - 1902 / Gloucester / England)

Invictus


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
........................
........................
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Comments about this poem (Invictus by William Ernest Henley )

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  • Jon Harris (12/16/2009 11:50:00 PM)

    I find the direction this comment thread has taken to be extremely distasteful. Sean Taylor, the immaturity of your ill though out claims astounds me. I would advise you to keep your opinions on such important matters to yourself; especially without any research. By generalizing EVERY 'god follower' as a pompous pig you significantly decrease the credibility of your statement.
    All of that aside, I wish to provide my own input on this poem. I'll add that this is my opinion, nothing more. I do not think the author was making a religious statement about there being a god or not. Let's not focus on if this poem is 'god-less' or not. This poem is simply an optimistic outlook on human nature. The fact that we can be 'masters of our fate' and 'captains of our soul' is truly inspiring. Being a master of one's own fate relates directly back to the great 'American Dream' that helped establish the United States during it's founding. We all have the power to become someone who can benefit our world in a variety of ways.
    I believe that the overall tone is to make the most of our struggles and problems. Just like pruning a tree helps it grow stronger and produce better fruit, when people overcome problems they grow. (Report) Reply

  • Sean Taylor (12/16/2009 10:25:00 PM)

    I still find it crazy today that people have to take away from what is clearly a fantastic poem, with deep, powerful meaning, on the justification of religion.
    I love the fact its a god-less poem. Im far more likely to turn to this poem for help in times of need than the bible.

    Sorry Basra.....god is no more real than Harry Potter, or Elmo, and I take more life lessons from both.

    I really struggle with the pomposity of you arrogant 'god followers'who try and take credit for all beauty, creativness and morality.
    If this poem really offends your fragile religious values, then I guess 90% of things in this world do to.

    He offers people a choice, to take life and run with it. (Report) Reply

  • Basra Elmi (12/16/2009 8:35:00 PM)

    Crawford lol I resent that robust accusation of me having no free will. I do have a free will, and i choose it so to believe in God. Is that a crime? In fact, Jeff your point of rebuttal only enforced my position, which is, this poem is indeed a God-less poem, and the author certainly an agnost or at worst-an athiest.

    I am the master of my fate,
    I am the captain of my soul'


    Clearly this above two stanzas escaped my notice before. The author basically is distastefully taking credit of him fate and soul, as if he was God himself. I should have seen that. I guess it took a none believer like you Jeff to notice this. If you meant to convince me i lacked free will- but it only re-enforced me to believe that God is the master of my fate, the captain of my soul. The poets arrogance to assert he is the master and captain of his soul is in infact-certifiably blasphamous.
    Can we agree to disagree? Must you make me join you and your infamous atheist.....Christopher hitchesn in your heresey camp? I think not.


    Basra. Minneapolis. (Report) Reply

  • Jeff Crawford (12/14/2009 10:42:00 PM)

    To Basra Elmi,
    You are not the master of your fate,
    You are not the captain of your soul!
    Surely you have the intelligence to accept the profound words of this poem. If you are blinded by religious supersition you will never achieve the last two lines of this poem. Don't you have any free will? (Report) Reply

  • Benny Pinaula (12/14/2009 12:29:00 AM)

    Hafa Adai from Guam,

    It's funny how as an adult how this poem means so much more today then when I was in high school. After watching the movie, I can say that my soul was moved and my fate so much brighter. Life is truly epic! (Report) Reply

  • Basra Elmi (12/13/2009 6:55:00 PM)

    also finished watching the movie, I thought it was amazing. Morgan Freeman and Matt Dammon were fantastic. I was intriguied by the poem featured in the movie and googled it. I was somewhat delivered to this website and although i appreciate and take note of the vast positive comments about the poem, i had to beg to differ. The poem was no doubt, inspiring, hopeful, and strong in its stance. But the third line disturbed me and made me not like it anymore.

    ' I thank whatever gods may be'


    The pluralarity of 'gods' and the doubtful 'whahtever may be' suggests a connotation of ungodliness and atheisism. Based on the ungodliness stance of the author i choose not to like it.


    Basra Minneapolis (Report) Reply

  • Peggy Ragas-matthews (12/13/2009 12:56:00 PM)

    I also had to memorize this poem over 40 years ago in school. I saw the movie last night and it was awesome. This poem will now become my favorite, Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon both did outstanding performances. I think we could learn alot about forgiveness from that movie. We have seen how holding on to the past is killng the country, we need to start healing. I wish every one would go to see this movie. I would not take anything away from the Princess and the Frog but this is the movie that need to be promoted big time. You cannot read that poem and see the movie and not be changed. (Report) Reply

  • Greg Davis (12/12/2009 11:49:00 PM)

    This i going to become my new favorite poem. I watched the new movie Invictus tonight, and the poem is such a moving underpinning to the movie. (Report) Reply

  • Linda Law (12/10/2009 2:45:00 PM)

    Every Freshman in my high school had to learn this poem. That was over 40 years ago. Miss Harpole would be proud that I can still remember it. I appreciate the meaning of this more today than 45 years ago. (Report) Reply

  • Paula Wolfe (12/7/2009 10:03:00 AM)

    I read Invictus when I was 15 years old and the powerful words have remained with me a lifetime. I am going to be 60 soon and still remember the words to the poem just as if I read the poem yesterday. It still has the same effect on me. I often remember the words when life gets tough... When I first heard them advertise the movie I knew instantly why the title was selected. If everr anyone lived the words of the poem... Nelson Mandala did. I cannot wait to go see the movie. I cannot picture anyone but Morgan Freeman playing the part. (Report) Reply

  • Sherrie Lovler (12/5/2009 12:18:00 PM)

    This is a very powerful poem. I am a calligrapher and have had many requests to letter this poem. To design a piece well I need to really connect with the poem and letter it in a style that is fitting. I hope I have done it justice. You can see it here:
    http: //inkmonkey.com/artgallery/invictus/invictus.html (Report) Reply

  • Sue D (11/27/2009 10:36:00 PM)

    I've carried this poem around in the front of my filofax for years, and it's given me strength through some very dark times. I never knew who wrote it until I read about the movie. Glad to know other people love it as much as I do. (Report) Reply

  • Marco E (11/27/2009 1:23:00 PM)

    Is a great poem about the character of a man...The movie 'INVICTUS' I think that has a little relationship because is about Nelson Mandela and his efforts to unite South Africa after the end of the apartheid, the movie shows his relationship and work together with the white captain of the south African team. (Report) Reply

  • Holt Louque (11/26/2009 9:28:00 PM)

    There is a new movie coming out soon by the same name. I'll have to see if it is of the same theme. Great poem! (Report) Reply

  • Juan Verde (11/20/2009 8:11:00 PM)

    A very important poem in a critical part of my life. I have since found that the memorization of poems, sayings, proverbs, and allegories assists one in pulling life together at certain moments. Poetry, proverbs etal. serve to create within one a life condensing and expanding gem. When the moment is right the poem, proverb, saying will come to life and bring new connective meainng to one's life.

    Traveling the planet I have seen that the expression above is a constant in many cultures.

    The final two lines of Invictus require a certain responsibilty that many would not like to take on - are not ready to take on. The poem prompts one to, perhaps, ask oneself if I am ready to become a master of my fate, if so... (Report) Reply

  • Lorale Loza (11/19/2009 11:23:00 PM)

    My father recited this poem often. He said many times that he was an athiest but I really thought when his life ended he was maybe not in that frame of mind. This is the only poem I can recite. Now there is a movie with that name and I can't even invision what it can be about. Daniel I think you would have liked my dad.
    Lorale (Report) Reply

  • Daniel Linder (11/19/2009 2:22:00 PM)

    some brief personal history. I'm 79 yrs old, experiencing structual failure and some system failure. don't remember when I first read this poem. I am neither a student or a critic of poetry. I understand that the poem was banned by the clergy when it was published for it's seemingly agnostic overtones. I struggled as a young man to define myself, seek support for emotional turmoil. I had no idea of Henley's personal life or of that time in literary history. I did find insperation and determination in the poem. I, also, read Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay on 'Self Reliance'. Over the years, I have recomended both writings to my children and grandchildren. I was born Jewish, been Bar Mitzvoh, and long ago drifted away from organized religion, tho I retained my Jewish identity. Whenever I speak to someone who is fervently involved in their beliefs I shy away. Seems to me they think they are the sole posessors of the 'Truth'. What is 'Truth'? It is reality as one percives it. It is a belief system that one commits to. Seems to me that there are many pathways to the 'Truth'. From the most primitave of societies to the most sophisticated. Who am I to say that you are wrong, that I am right. The inhumanities that have been commited in the name of the 'Truth' are rife throughout history. Both pieces of literature seem to support that thesis and have been a guide for me. My only prejudice is against prejudice, lack of tolerance, the refusal to accept an individual based on personal merit. I'm a strong believer in accepting resposibility for one's own behaviour. I belive that no can can manipulate me without my permission. The strength of these two pieces of literature have sustained me over many years and continue to do so. (Report) Reply

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