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(1849 - 1902 / Gloucester / England)


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 (Apparition by William Ernest Henley )

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  • Carlota Hernandez (1/30/2010 4:24:00 PM)

    Maybe stoicism is not the Universal Truth, but it's the less selfish of attitudes towards the others. I know it well, I used to know somebody who behave and thought like that. The poem goes deeper than simply encouraging to have a good time. It's full of significance for those who strive for personal evolution and ideals.

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  • Enrique Snyder (1/25/2010 11:35:00 AM)

    This poem could be written by Lucio Aneo Seneca. It is full of the spirit of estoicism.
    Really can inspire to them that are crossing in dificulties, something that is common in our days. But don't think that the stoicism is the Universal Truth.

  • Samuel Gioia (1/22/2010 11:01:00 AM)

    This poem can be read in many ways, that is what is beautiful about it. Great literature reveals the reader in the reading of it. It is natural to me to read this as a meditation on the crucifixion of Jesus although that may not be the author's intent. I also love the reading of it in the movie by this title. It suggests that the mastery spoken of in the poem is mastery of one's own emotions in adversity including the impulse to hate and find revenge. MLK said, 'Let no man lower you so far as to make you hate him.' The movie is a very original and creative meditation on the poem.

  • Bob Blackwell (1/21/2010 2:31:00 AM)

    Inspiring poem which simply means, we must strive to make each day a good one no matter what our circumstances maybe. How we think determines how we feel!

  • John Handley (1/17/2010 10:18:00 PM)

    Having bibles may or may not be good, living by the message is what makes a person stand out from others. That is what I read in this lovely poem.

    BTW I am a souf efrican who has left my place of birth and still sees great injustices and inequallity in the country

  • Susan Grave (1/9/2010 7:40:00 AM)

    I'd like to make a comment about those who are frequently bringing in 'stories' about this poem being non-Christian. It is a poem of hope, much as the Bible should be.. but those idiots out there who have never been born & brought up in southern Africa should realise that the Bible was so often completely misinterpreted and the Africa into which Mandela was born, the Holy Book, was interpreted completely incorrectly! ! Blacks are inferior to whites! What a load of sh**. The movie about Madiba and Francois Pienaar was superbly portrayed.
    BTW I have several Bibles in my home: -) And, am a white woman of Catholic faith who just loves living on the continent of her birth.

  • Neville Lines (1/8/2010 3:20:00 AM)

    I have been familiar all my life with 'Invictus' I recalled it to mind several times when it helped me through bad times. There is a lot of rot and waffle in some of the comments with people imposing their religious and other beliefs.

    My interpretation of Henley is simply this - BE STRONG AND TAKE COURAGE

  • Serene Waters (1/3/2010 11:54:00 PM)

    I just saw the phenomenal movie Invictus, which drew its title from the poem. The movie, about Nelson Mandela and his resurrection from being a prisoner of his country to being its president, showed that truly, he was the 'master of [his] fate and the captain of [his] soul.' He rehearsed the words of hope from Invictus, in his prison cell and the power of spirit over matter was manifested.
    As president, he helped the country to unite during a very tense post-aparthied time. Through his wisdom and depth of heart, he was able to transform enemies into friends. He was able to embrace his nation, both black and white as one family. This movie was very inspirational and made it look like peace is possible.

  • Johan Matias (1/3/2010 10:36:00 AM)

    This is truly great and inspiring poem. It gives strength in middle of trouble and raises interesting questions. But I must say that many commentators read a bit too much to it and especially are convinced of their own interpretation. Of course I too give it plenty more meaning than there is and would like people to agree. lol

    To put it simply I think the main point is: 'No matter what happens, I am bold and confident me and do what I do. Which is nice.' It does not state if any gods do exists or even about free will.

    'I am the captain of my soul.' is interesting expression. 'Soul' refers to human mental faculty. It could refer to religious entity maybe eternal being, but not necessary. 'Captain of soul' suggests that there is some supreme decision maker separate from the soul. But as it is 'I', the whole sentence seems to emphasize that there is only me and no one else. 'I am the master of my fate' could also only emphasize that there is no one else in control. Plainly: 'I am me and I do what I do*

    Strictly speaking there is nothing that forces one to interpret free will or lack of predetermined destiny. Sure the poem seems to praise free will on the first reading. But there is very little hint about the nature of 'I'. There is nothing to suggest that 'I' could decide to be any different than he/she is. Or that he/she could make different decisions. On the contrary 'I' seems very permanent and unchangeable. Maybe 'I' is what 'I' is just because 'I' is like that, not because he/she chooses to be like that.

    Sure for me more easy and natural interpretation is that one can choose his/her own destiny without god or any other authority and disregard of the circumstances. But that is just me. The way I am. lol

  • George Kirui (1/3/2010 4:28:00 AM)

    I agree; this is such a great poem. I do not see any crisis of faith in it but rather a person who has balanced his faith to address a greater audience...whatever god may be.... clearly brings a concept of existence of many believes. The poem remains nourishing to all religious sects...from the right wing Muslim to the christian sycophants. The bottom line is that we shape our destiny, that the greatest faith is the faith in one to self liberate or destruct and I believe that is also the baseline for the movie Invictus. For those with a bias of thinking along religious lines, Job in the bible was unbowed; his questioning of the existence of God did not imply a crisis of faith but rather a stronger faith; his unbowedness did not result to lessening of pain but rather an increase.......he was the captain of his soul.

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