Nelson Mandela read “Invictus,” by Victorian poet William Ernest Henley, to fellow inmates of the Robben Island Prison. It’s an oft-quoted poem, and here it is in its entirety. “Invictus” means “unconquered.”
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.
5 thoughts on ““and yet the menace of the years, / finds and shall find me unafraid”: RIP Nelson Mandela”
Thanks so much for sharing this. A beautiful tribute.
Happy to pay a very small, very second-hand tribute.
Very powerful. It’s an odd coincidence that this should come up, although not much of one, since I know this poem is associated with Mandela, but I mean in another context. I am reading a novel about Robert Louis Stevenson right now, and just yesterday this poem was quoted, as William Ernest Henley was one of his friends.
How interesting! I had no idea.
“The menace of the years, finds and shall find me unafraid”
What is ‘Menace of the year and why does the poet use the word ‘find’ twice?