Invictus: teaching myself to be strong

 

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.                                                        -William Ernest Henley

 

This poem is truly inspiring to me. Though it seems a bit trite because it’s been quoted so often, it shows me a better, stronger, more enduring path to walk in life. At times I think “am I lying to myself? My head has been bowed by circumstance plenty of times, I have been an incredible coward.”

However, reading this poem and learning it is not about honesty – it’s about replacing old thoughts with new. It’s about convincing myself that the old way of doing things is wrong, that there’s a better way. It acknowledges that life is tough but I can make it. It gives me good, strong, positive thoughts to fasten on, so that when a weak, cowardly thought comes up, there’s something to stand up against it. In effect, it’s “perseverance practice.”

The only things I have done in my life that were worthwhile, happened because I didn’t give up. Invictus is a poem about not giving up. I wish I had learned this poem as a kid. I wonder if I would have been stronger?

Is there a poem or quote that you use to become a better person?

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