William Ernest Henley

(1849 - 1902 / Gloucester / England)

Invictus - Poem 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
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Comments about Invictus by William Ernest Henley

  • (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

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  • (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

  • (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...
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  • (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.
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  • (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

  • (11/5/2009 4:35:00 PM)

    Though this poem may be about the poet & his adversities it’s hard to ignore the romantic machismo that bleeds through the verses.
    The Romantic Movement had a profound influence on art, science, & exploration & much of the success of this very personal poem (apart from being a great poem) is the way it spoke to & reiterated sentiments of this era. Strength, self reliance, determination, adventure (this last element too often overlooked with respect to this poem) were all essential ingredients to imperial Europe and anyone looking to establish themselves in their respective field. This poem reflects the poets ethnosyncrasies as much as his idiosyncrasies.
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  • (11/4/2009 1:18:00 PM)

    easely ahigh score from the netherlands
    can we have your votes please..W.E. Henley..ten points dix points
    (Report) Reply

  • (11/2/2009 9:00:00 PM)

    This is in response to Chris Robson. I like the level of thinking you put into your post...yet, having said that I have to say I feel otherwise. Given the context of the poem, I feel that in using the lower case letters for 'whatever gods may be' and using upper case for 'I am' towards the end emphasizes his then-current state of mind that to get through the struggle at hand it was purely self-reliance and inner strength. No disrespect or intent to start any type of argument...just voicing my thought as another rookie to the poetry game (Report) Reply

  • (10/6/2009 5:02:00 PM)

    That is a VERY good point Chris Robson! I never thought if it that way and I love this poem! I have loved it since reading it in high school. (Report) Reply

  • (9/29/2009 1:23:00 PM)

    If that was obvious i do apologize, I'm just getting into this poetry game (Report) Reply

  • (9/29/2009 1:14:00 PM)

    At the start of the poem Henley uses lower caseing for 'whatever gods may be' which in that context suggests a possible lack of respect or belief in a higher power. However, I think there is a deeper meaning hidden in the ending... 'I am' is the divine name, so Mr Henley could actually be meaning 'God the master of my fate, God the captain of my soul'. (Report) Reply

  • (9/1/2009 9:35:00 PM)

    well, i am a junior at booker t. washington senior high in miami, florida and to start off my junior year in my AP english and language class this was the first poem that we read. My teacher Mr.v let us interpret the poem ourselves. as i read it for the first time and found my own perception on the poem i saw i as this man was teling us not to feel pity on him cause he knew that at the end of reading this poem we would feel the pity. i see that this man faced alot in life. i mean he had no arms nor legs he had three types of cancers and he had tuberculosis which was killing him. if you read is bio you see that both his sons died and he had a nut case for a wife. at first i felt that he was directing this poem towards the devil telling him that although he has lived his life in missery and pain that even if he did go to hell the devil would not scare him. he believed that he was going to hell in my opinion cause he never was well in his life so he never thought he would be well in his after life. he just never saw the life. look i saw it like this, this man wasnt looking for the light it seemed that he liked living in the darkness. i felt like he was a grown nman going through a tragic life but at one point in your life something has to go right no matter how small it is. many people are going through worse and dont complain as much as he was in this poem, but at the end i understood him.this man had no arms so how did he write this he didnt his wife did and if you all didnt know he hated her. but although he hated her she wrote this poem for him.why? cause he knew that with her writing this poem she would over read these words and these words would kill her inside.he always blamed her for his kids death cause as his wife he felt it was her job to watch and keep the kids safe so he got back at her.he knew that he would die soon and with leaving this poem behind it would lead his wife into a great depression causing her to hurt herself.well 5 min. after he wrote this poem he died and his wife was put in a crzy home for about 6 years and into the 6th year she comittied suicide beacuse she could never get over the words that her husband wrote. he did exactly what he wanted he killed the women he hated with his words. (Report) Reply

  • (7/6/2009 5:04:00 AM)

    This is the best poem ha had ever made!
    All lines were on it's extent emotion! Well, this is actually my second time to read this magnificent poem. I first read this from a literary book, and it absolutely caught my attention! He really expresses a lot of pain and braveness! I salute him for writing this one!
    (Report) Reply

  • (6/10/2009 12:50:00 AM)

    When I was a freshman in high school, back in the stone age, my English teacher had us learn this poem. I never realized at that time that this poem would come back to haunt me some 40 plus years later. I was able to recite it all but the third verse. But upon seeing it, it all came back to me. I find now how much truth this poem holds. If that teacher was still alive, I would thank her. And let her know that she had made a lasting impression on one of her students. (Report) Reply

  • (5/17/2009 12:35:00 AM)

    This poem, if you read it very carefully and understand every verse, is full of passion and inspiration.It vividly expressed how he defiantly face all the struggles he went through.For me, Henley's poem has no intention to blaspheme any religion but his outlet to release the burdens he is going through at the time he was writing this poem.

    I first read the poem when I was in High School more than 2 decades ago....up to now it stayed in my heart and in my memory. A very powerful poem and I have recited it many times especially during the times I need to uplift myself in times of difficulties...it has helped me through the darkest times of my life, particularly the last 2 lines: I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul...I love this poem very much.
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  • (12/21/2008 9:19:00 AM)

    The beginning lines of the poem are more revealing than the ending ones, I feel. The poet expresses GRATITUDE, 'to whatever gods may be'. That feeling is genuine, something that anyone who has successfully struggled against heavy odds, can easily identify with. The success in this case is not an outward victory but clearly a moral or psychological one. Not a perfect poem, imho, but certainly very very moving. (Report) Reply

  • (10/6/2008 4:51:00 PM)

    this poem is clearly not about god. it may have phrases that relate to the bible but Henley was not intentionally referring to god in his poem, any one who's done any research on Henley would know that he lost his leg and this poem is about his struggle through life. its in inner battle and although you can relate it to god, Henley’s intentions of the poem were not directed towards religion. (Report) Reply

  • (1/27/2008 12:42:00 AM)

    Some years ago an answer to 'Invictus' was given. Let me quote it to you:

    Art thou in truth?
    Then what of Him who bought thee with His blood?
    Who plunged into devouring seas
    And snatched thee from the flood,
    Who bore for all our fallen race
    What none but Him could bear-
    That God who died that man might live
    And endless glory share.
    Of what avail thy vaunted strength
    Apart from His vast might?
    Pray that His light may pierce the gloom
    That thou mayest see aright.
    Men are as bubbles on the wave,
    As leaves upon the tree,
    Thou, captain of thy soul! Forsooth,
    Who gave that place to thee?
    Free will is thine-free agency,
    To wield for right or wrong;
    But thou must answer unto Him
    To whom all souls belong.
    Bend to the dust that 'head unbowed, '
    Small part of life's great whole,
    And see in Him and Him alone,
    The captain of thy soul.

    ('The Soul's Captain')

    And who wrote that? Orson F. Whitney

    To me (a Christian) the two poems together are some of the most enlightened ever penned.
    (Report) Reply

  • (11/19/2007 7:52:00 AM)

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

    a most convincing way to complete the poem.
    (Report) Reply

  • (8/14/2007 1:29:00 AM)

    perfect. this poem is one of a kind. (Report) Reply

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