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L.A. Poetry Examiner's Friday Pick: Invictus a poem that inspired Nelson Mandela

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The following poem "Invictus" (Unconquered, Undefeated) by William Ernest Henly was one that was of great inspiration to the great Nelson Mandela (July 18, 1918 - December 5, 2013) whose passing yesterday has grieved the world.

South African leader Mandela, also called Madiba his respected clan name, was incarcerated for 27 years on Robben Island. Nelson had it written on a scrap of paper in his cell and recited the poem to fellow prisoners. He was empowered by it's message of self mastery.

"Invictus" is a short Victorian poem published in 1875 in a book called Book of Verses.


by William Ernest Henly

Out of the black 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 straight 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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