A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Invictus (15)

Poetry now, every bit as much as in the Romantic age, is a utopian demonstration, by aesthetic means, of what true freedom would be like. It engages us to imagine something better than what at present we are afflicted with; it helps keep hope alive; it incites us to make more radical demands. And poetry does that out of the enjoyment of its own autonomy, which it is duty-bound not to forfeit. DAVID CONSTANTINE Poetry

No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. NELSON MANDELA Long Walk to Freedom 

This is the poem which helped Mandela through his 27 years in prison:

Invictus

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.

WE HENLEY

6 comments:

The Weaver of Grass said...

Great man. Great poem.

George said...

If memory serves me correctly, "Invictus" was the first poem that truly resonated with me in my youth. It still resonates with me, of course, and I completely understand how it sustained Nelson Mandela during those mind-numbing years on Robben Island.

Amanda said...

This epitomizes the Dark Night of the Soul.

am said...

Nelson Mandela's life story is compelling, including the fact that this poem was so close to his heart.

Friko said...

Invictus is one of those poem I want to sneer at but never can. It is all so pat and tidy and heart-tuggingly sentimental and yet . . . .

Perhaps I should just give up and allow myself the pleasure of unadulterated sentiment.

I have actually used the poem myself on my (ex)-poetry blog. Goes to show, doesn’t it?

PS: How do you feel about posting poems which are possibly in copyright? I gave up posting poetry because somebody frightened me by pointing out that I was frequently ignoring copyright and could be sued.

I miss the poetry blog. What do you thin?

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for all these comments.

Friko — I agree with you about 'Invictus'. It gets to you despite everything.

Re. copyright: all the poems in this present series are out of copyright, and I made that clear at the outset. Generally, I either link to copyright-protected poems or just quote part of them, which I think you are allowed to do. Having said that, I have certainly blogged a few complete copyrighted poems in the past — before I was properly aware of the legal implications. Why don't you start the poetry blog again just with poems that are out of copyright? There would still be plenty to go at. Otherwise, it's not worth the worry.