Wide World of Quotes > William Ernest Henley Quotes


William Ernest Henley
English poet
(1849–1903)



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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.

-- "Invictus", first published (without any title) in: William Ernest Henley, A book of verses. London, D. Nutt, 1888. The title "Invictus" (Latin for "unconquered") was added when the poem was included in The Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250–1900 (Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed.) (O.U.P., 1902).

Similar sentiments were expressed in:
-- the poem "If..." by Rudyard Kipling
-- The Man in the Arena section of Theodore Roosevelt's "Citizenship In A Republic" speech , delivered at the Sorbonne, Paris, France on 23 April 1910

More information about the poem "Invictus" may be found here.


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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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