Daily Archives: July 13, 2014

Poetry Shelf Battle – Invictus

The Bookshelf Battle Shelf is not a place for the feint of heart. Just the other day I saw The Grapes of Wrath give an uppercut to War and Peace over a prime piece of real estate on the bookshelf. All the other books looked on in horror.

Yet, despite all the chaos, once in awhile I find some time to put some poetry on the shelf. Whenever I feel down, this is a poem that helps me feel better:

Invictus

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 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.

In other words, blogarinos, life is full of a constant, neverending slew of roadblocks and obstacles getting between you and what you want. You wake up one day. You say, “I wanna do X!” And you go along, you start doing X and then before you know it the world tosses a monkey wrench into the gears of your plans and shouts, “Ha ha ha, no you will do Y instead!” When you’re young, you think anything is possible – that you can be an astronaut, a champion football player, a famous actor, lead guitarist in a rock band, professional stunt car driver, whatever. Then you grow up and the realities of life get in your way. Work, responsibilities, family – so many things need your attention that you run out of time to practice that guitar or whatever it is you really wanted to do before you discovered how tough the world really is.

What Henley is saying is that no matter how difficult life can be, YOU are in charge of your reaction to it. Will you let it get you down, or will you try to find a way to achieve your dreams in the face of adversity? After all, as he says, you are the master of your fate, you are the captain of your soul.

Random tidbit of info – this poem was a source of inspiration for Nelson Mandela and he claimed it helped him get through the difficulties of his life. It was featured prominently in the Clint Eastwood directed film about Mandela and the South African rugby team, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, also called Invictus.

SHAMELESS PLUG – Thanks to all the Bookshelf Battle readers out there. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @bookshelfbattle for the latest updates in the world of awesome booktastic bookery.

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