There are two poems that I have carried in my wallet since the late 1960s. One of them I've written about before in Two roads diverged... and the other is "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley. It's a little embarrassing to admit that, until a few minutes ago, I didn't know anything about Mr. Henley, only that his words "spoke" to me and they helped me through more than a few rough spots in my life. Invictus was reportedly written in 1875 while Mr. Henley was in the hospital recovering from the amputation of one of his legs just below the knee. He had suffered with tuberculosis of the bone since the age of twelve.
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.