For My Unconquerable Soul

The title of the new Clint Eastwood film, Invictus, comes from a poem that Nelson Mandela took comfort in when he was incarcerated on Robben Island for eighteen of the twenty-seven years he spent in prison.

by William Ernest Henley

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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Listen to Overtone and Yollandi Nortjie’s “9,000 Days”: