Invictus (Invincible in Latin) by William Ernest Henley

During Mandela’s 27 years of political imprisonment (9000 days) his daily source of inspiration was a poem called “Invictus.” William Henley, the English poet wrote Invictus in 1875 from his hospital bed after his leg was amputated in his lifelong battle against tuberculosis of the bone. Invictus means “Invincible” in Latin:

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.

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