Saturday, October 15, 2016


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 bludgeoning 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

This is a favorite poem of mine. William Ernest Henley wrote this poem in 1875 when thanks to tuberculosis he had to have one leg amputated. He narrowly avoided losing his remaining leg. So, presumably as a way to avoid saying "why me?" for the rest of his life (Henley lived another 28 years after the amputation), he wrote this poem. It wasn't the only work he ever did but it was his best known work. It's something that has touched people who are motivated by good (Mandela) and evil (Timothy McVeigh). The bottom line is that we all have to make our own decisions in life. And no matter what happens in life we have to keep on going. Though this poem has a grim determination to it I don't think you have to lose a leg, spend 27 years unjustly imprisoned, or blow up a government building to find inspiration in these words. There's nothing guaranteed to us in life so there's no point in crying about your losses. You might as well get up when you get knocked down. After all what else are you going to do? The important thing to remember is that each of us gets to make our own moral choices. You should never let anyone warp or remove your moral barometer. 
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