Invictus– the poem that inspired Nelson Mandela
by William Ernest Henly

The following poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henly, a Victorian poet, was published in 1875 and was a deep inspiration to the great Nelson Mandela (July 18, 1918 – December 5, 2013)


Nelson Mandela, also known by his clan name Madiba, 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 its message of self mastery.

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.

Original article in the Examiner