Thursday, December 11, 2008

Invictus

In my time as a writer, I've found that some pieces come together easier than others. Some flow, some find a way and others are the creative equivalent of dry-heaving. In some cases, others take care of it for you. This is one of those times.
This is an e-mail I received from Emily's Godfather and one of my best friends for more than 20 years, Brian O'Dowd.

Tim,

"Invictus" (Latin for "Unconquered") is a poem by the British Poet William Ernest Henley, and it's one of my favorites. I recently learned just why Henley wrote it, and it reminded me of Emily. Here's the gist of it: "At the age of 12 Henley became a victim of tuberculosis of the bone. In spite of this, in 1867 he successfully passed the Oxford local examination as a senior student. His diseased foot had to be amputated directly below the knee; physicians announced the only way to save his life was to amputate the other. Henley persevered and survived with one foot intact. He was discharged in 1875, and was able to lead an active life for nearly 30 years despite his disability. With an artificial foot, he lived until the age of 53. 'Invictus' was written from a hospital bed."

Invictus

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.

Always keeping that beautiful child in my prayers.

Brian

3 comments:

tall gram said...

AMEN! Words for us all.

Thanks, Brian.

Gram

Kathleen said...

Beautiful.
Thanks, Brian.

VNTuongLai said...

You’re invited to view my video “Bat Khuat (Tap 4)” which features the song Bat Khuat that was inspired by the poem Invictus.
URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ul9AcIDleIw