This is one of my all-time favourites. "Invictus" in Latin, means "Unconquerable".
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.
- William Ernest Henley "Invictus"
The sad thing about this stunning piece though is that Tim McVeigh's blasphemy is responsible to a great extent for publicising it. The terrorist used these as his last words.......if ever there was a wrong use thought of for something of great depth and beauty, this was it.....sad but true.
Another stunning piece that I can't get out of my mind is by a person who is totally different from Henley. His is perhaps the most famous name in literature.....
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
- William Shakespeare "Macbeth"
These words are too beautiful and deep for me to believe that he just wrote them without feeling the words......