by William Ernest Henley
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 bloodied, 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 straight the gait
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
* * * * *
Amazing how many familiar lines there are in this powerful 16-line poem.
It was written around the time Henley had a leg amputated because of tuberculosis in the bone.
These lines were also Timothy McVeigh's last words. But they don't belong to him, and shouldn't be tainted by his corruption.
Robert Louis Stevenson modeled Long John Silver after Henley.
Some have posited that the first two lines indicate that Henley was depressed when he wrote the poem.