This article is about the poem. A portrait of William Ernest Henley by I am an african poem pdf Ward published in Vanity Fair 26 November 1892. Originally, the poem was published with no title. The second edition of Henley’s Book of Verses added a dedication “To R.
Scottish flour merchant, baker, and literary patron. The 1900 edition of Henley’s Poems, published after Bruce’s death, altered the dedication to “I. I have not winced nor cried aloud.
My head is bloody, but unbowed. Finds, and shall find me, unafraid. I am the captain of my soul. In 1875 one of Henley’s legs required amputation due to complications arising from tuberculosis.
Immediately after the amputation, he was told that his other leg would require a similar procedure. He chose instead to enlist the services of the distinguished English surgeon Joseph Lister, who was able to save Henley’s remaining leg after multiple surgical interventions on the foot. While recovering in the infirmary, he was moved to write the verses that became “Invictus”. This period of his life, coupled with recollections of an impoverished childhood, were primary inspirations for the poem, and play a major role in its meaning.
A memorable evocation of Victorian stoicism—the “stiff upper lip” self-discipline and fortitude in adversity, which popular culture rendered into a British character trait, “Invictus” remains a cultural touchstone. With the message of displaying fortitude in the face of adversity, the poem evokes Victorian stoicism and a “stiff upper lip”. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
In modern English this is rendered as “But the gate to life is very narrow. In this context “life” means “eternal salvation. In a speech to the House of Commons on 9 September 1941, Winston Churchill paraphrased the last two lines of the poem, stating “We are still masters of our fate. We still are captains of our souls.
While incarcerated at Robben Island prison, Nelson Mandela recited the poem to other prisoners and was empowered by its message of self-mastery. The poem was read by US POWs in North Vietnamese prisons. James Stockdale recalls being passed the last stanza, written with rat droppings on toilet paper, from fellow prisoner David Hatcher. 7 July 2005 London bombings.