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

  • (11/4/2009 1:18:00 PM)

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

  • (5/21/2007 5:05:00 PM)

    There's no need for such hostility...

    'It matters not how strait the gate' is actually a bibilical reference to a quote attributed to Jesus in the King James Bible:

    'In the 1611 King James Version of Matthew 7: 13-14, following the Golden Rule, Jesus says, 'Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.''

    Henley was agnostic and was saying that in fact it _doesn't_ matter how strait the gate - you and not 'whatever gods may be' are the master of your soul and the captain of your fate.

    Personally I've never come across more beautiful or inspirational words in the English language.
    (Report) Reply

  • (1/19/2007 7:15:00 AM)

    This is a very powerful poem and all the words are perfect. Hey Allan Robinson, can you read and UNDERSTAND the full text and the meaning of the words? ! Because every poet and writer (especially good ones) choose their words carefully. You said gate is supposed to be gait, please see the meaning of strait so you'll know why he used gate. Strait is a passage or a canal, so the gate is perfect and the gait you were suggesting means a way of walking. See the purpose of the words and it's connection, compared to your idiotic comment. UNDERSTAND THE MEANING AND ENJOY THE MASTERPIECE! (Report) Reply

  • (11/29/2006 9:51:00 PM)

    trivial point of interest: this poem served as timothy mcveigh's last words back in 2001. (Report) Reply

  • (11/23/2006 1:48:00 PM)

    I first read this powerfull poem in a Reggie Kray biography years ago and have pretty much recited it to myself on a daily basis since. It has helped me through the darkest times of my life, the last verse in particular..The pen is certainly more powerfull than the sword.. (Report) Reply

  • Brian Dorn (7/21/2006 10:36:00 PM)

    The soul is the core of our being... there's little we can do to prevent the physical toll inflicted upon us through time, but only we control the ultimate fate of our soul. A powerful and spiritual message! (Report) Reply

  • (5/27/2006 12:54:00 AM)

    this poem is really wonderful! !
    it's simple and the choice of words are really simple, but full of deep thoughts
    i know this poem from one tree hill serial, and i found its interesting
    william henley described his feelings purely clear, that we also got into it
    (Report) Reply

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