by WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY (1849-1903)
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 unbow’d.
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 was afflicted from childhood with a form of tuberculosis, losing one foot to amputation because of it. His other foot was saved after 20 agonizing months in the hospital. Despite such adversity, Henley never ceased to worship strength and courage and a belief in the ability of the human spirit to triumph.