Invictus is latin for ”unconquered”.
It’s been all over the news recently that Nelson Mandela is in hospital and I hope he gets well very soon. I think he is is one of the greatest people of all time, he is one of my heroes and I have the utmost respect for him. I hope I meet him one day, I know it would be such an inspiring moment. It amazes me how a human being could survive 27 years in solitary confinement, not lose their mind and then go on to become the first Black president of South Africa, it doesn’t really get any greater than that.
I’ve been talking about him a lot lately and my mum told me to google ”Invictus Poem”. I came across this poem by William Ernest Henley, an English writer, which is Mandela’s favorite poem. He had it on a piece of paper with him during his years in Robben Island and it was part of what kept him going.
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.
Such strong words, this poem cuts through my heart, especially the last stanza. It sort of empowers you to the point that you feel that no burden could ever get the best of you, pure beauty. I can see how this kept him going, but still, nothing explains his strength of character considering what he went through. Along with Desiderata, this is now my favorite poem. Get well soon Nelson Mandela <3