THE Vic­to­ri­ans are some­times mocked for their overly pos­i­tive out­look on life. But this lit­tle poem by Wil­liam Ernest Hen­ley (18491903) has, since it was writ­ten in 1875, in­spired gen­er­a­tions with its de­fi­ant sto­icism.

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.

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