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A few nights ago, my husband and I watched a movie: Invictus.

If you’re not familiar it is the story of Nelson Mandela when he was elected President, and his goal of trying to unify a divided country.

Throughout the movie, the word Invictus kept popping up. It turns out it was a poem that Mandela kept with him during his 27 years of incarceration. It is what kept him together.

After I heard it, and read the whole thing, I can see why this poem can totally lift you up, and lend you courage.

Invictus was written by William Ernest Henley. When he was 17 years old, he suffered from tuberculosis of the bone. The disease spread to his foot compromising his heath. In order to save his life, doctors had to amputate his leg directly below the knee.

I don’t know if it’s true, but according to Wikipedia, he wrote this poem while recovering from his surgery.


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.

For me, these are just powerful words.

I have to add this poem to my favorite list. Do you know of a poem that just reaches out to you?