It would have been my mom’s birthday this week. She passed away over a decade ago, but I still think about her. Certain things remind me of her. Poems are one. She used to love reciting them and getting us to memorize them. Of all of them, this one affects me the most. I still get shivers every time I read it.

I’ve studied William Ernest Henley and this poem. Written when he was in the hospital fighting tuberculosis of the bone, it speaks of courage in the face of death and his atheism; accepting whatever judgment will come for the decisions he’s made in life.

I see it as a tribute to the strength we have within us and a challenge for me to use my strength to control as much as I can of my own destiny.


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. 1849–1903

2 Responses to “unconquerable”

  1. 1 Carson

    I’ve had loved ones pass. And there’s something that always remind me of them. It always creates a warm glow inside.

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