Times may be dark, the fates against you, but you know what? Invictus, meaning “unconquerable” or “undefeated” in Latin, is a poem by William Ernest Henley. Conversely, the second line is an inference to the depths of hell - the punishments being the sins written down during a lifetime. One can refer to the following poems similar to that of Henley for further reference. Lines three and four are pure iambic tetrameter: Black as / the pit / from pole / to pole. Note the use of enjambment in the first three stanzas, where one line continues meaning into the next without punctuation. However, there are a few variations in the poem. Hence the poem is written in iambic tetrameter. Subscribe to our mailing list to get the latest and greatest poetry updates. This is one of the poems in which knowing the author’s background is of great help. However, the poem was published in 1888 in his first volume of poems, “Book of Verses”, without a title. It is also the title of a beautiful poem by William Earnest Henley. Here, the poet personifies the “night” that covers the speaker in “Black”. Though at the actual event Mandela gave him a text of “The Man in the Arena” passage from Theodore Roosevelt’s “Citizenship in a Republic” speech delivered in France in 1910. This is the gate that leads to the heavenly life. It's not quite prayer but it is grateful thanks. It means the stress falls on “Out” and “Black” in the first and second lines respectively. Thorough analysis. He wrote the poem without a title. Latin for "invincible", the poem "Invictus" is a deeply descriptive and motivational work filled with vivid imagery. His poems are published online and in print. The last stanza contains an allusion to a phrase present in Matthew 7:14. William Ernest Henley, born August 23, 1849, was an influential British poet, perhaps best known for his poem “Invictus” (1875). Henley writes, “In the fell clutch of circumstance/ I have not winced nor cried aloud.” In other words, the speaker has not allowed himself to become a victim of the events that have transpired in his life. Während eines 20-monatigen Sanatoriumsaufenthalts von 1873 bis 1875 in Edinburgh begann er Gedichte zu schreiben. Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be. See, Wi… He died of it on 11 July 1903, at the age of 53. The poem is most known for its themes of will-power and strength in the face of adversity, much of which is drawn from the horrible fate assigned to many amputees of the day— gangrene and death. In this way, Henley successfully projected the spirit of the late Victorian period. It seems as if the poet wrote this poem from the perspective of a person who is courageously fighting the odds of his or her life in a dark and upsetting phase. Invictus is a poem which focuses on the human spirit and its ability to overcome adversity. Throughout all that he has been dealt, the speaker has not even cringed or cried about what has happened. All of the four stanzas have the alternate or the ABAB rhyme scheme. looking at ‘I am the master of my fate, / I am the captain of my soul’, Nelson Mandela: A Very Short Introduction by Elleke Boehmer, Tom Lodge, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul, A Love by the Sea by William Earnest Henley. We respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously. This helps keep the whole poem together. However, despite the speaker’s almost absolute darkness ahead, he remains in good spirits, hopeful, and positive. Der Dichter Thomas Edward Brown, Rektor seiner Schule in Gloucester, begeisterte ihn für Literatur. The power of rejuvenation helped his mind be fresh again after getting defeated by fate. The unwavering resilience it summons in the face of adversity has led to its enduring popularity and use in a variety of contexts. Moreover, the mood changes as the poem approach the end. Many scholars believe Henley wrote this poem about himself since he wrote it while lying in a hospital bed. Perhaps Henley’s use of the word unconquerable here is what inspired the editor of “The Oxford Book of English Verse” to title the poem ‘Invictus’. It is a rallying cry for those who find themselves in dark and trying situations, who have to dig deep and fight for their lives. There is strong assonance - use of repeated vowels: Under the bludgeonings of chance/My head is bloody but unbowed. Here is a list of a few poems that depict the themes present in Henley’s poem, ‘Invictus’. Den Titel Invictus (deutsch Unbezwungen) gab dem Gedicht Arthur Quiller-Couch 1901, als er es in das von ihm herausgegebene The Oxford Book of English Verse aufnahm. The word “victus” has come from the past participle of “vincere” meaning “to conquer, overcome.” Collectively the word “Invictus” means one who cannot be conquered, meaning unconquerable. Neither the “punishments” inscribed on the “scroll” makes him frightened. It deals with the belief that man is the center of the universe. Jamie joined the Poem Analysis team back in November, 2010. It is through advertising that we are able to contribute to charity. Henley experienced pain and distress for many years - the poem is rooted in the awful circumstances he found himself in when a boy and a young man. Born in Gloucester, England in 1849, he was diagnosed with tubercular arthritis at the age of 12 and went through years of pain and discomfort. “Invictus” has achieved great cultural influence as an inspiring and uplifting poem. The human spirit is immensely strong and capable of withstanding extreme stress and pain. Meaning of the Poem ‘Invictus’ by William Ernest Henley. The title of the poem, ‘Invictus,’ which is Latin for “unconquered,” was given by the editor of “The Oxford Book of English Verse.” This poem is a favorite in popular culture, making appearances in movies such as Casablanca and the Nelson Mandela movie of the same name. These lines to ‘Invictus’ are some of the most powerful and poignant lines in all of poetry, recognized around the world. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, a South African revolutionary and President of South Africa (1994-1999), was influenced by the verbal energy and inspirational elements of Henley’s poem, ‘Invictus’. He again tells his reader that he does not fear anything. The night then becomes a symbol of hopelessness, a depressive medium in which the soul is lost. Seine Eltern waren William und Emma Henley. The speaker is coming out of a period of total darkness, a hell. It can be inferred, particularly when one knows the occupation of the man to whom the poem was dedicated, that our fearless speaker is perhaps a captain of a ship, particularly when he gives himself that title at the end of the poem. In this case, William Ernest Henley had tuberculosis of the bone when he was just 25 years old. ‘Invictus’ is a Latin adjective meaning, “unconquered, unsubdued, invincible.” It is a combination of two Latin words, “in” meaning “not, opposite of” and “victus”. He faces each challenge with courage and is not afraid, and he can surmount any hardship. In Invictus (2009), a biographical sports drama film based on John Carlin’s “Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation” (2008), he was depicted presenting a copy of the poem to Francois Pienaar, captain of the national South African rugby team for inspiration during the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Invictus is a four stanza rhyming poem in iambic tetrameter, that is, with four beats or stresses in each line. It was written in 1875 and published in 1888 in his first volume of poems, Book of Verses, in the section Life and Death (Echoes). There is an interesting start to this second quatrain - fell clutch is delicious wording for the reader's tongue and basically means cruel grasp, the speaker stating clearly that despite being tightly held, in an awful situation, they didn't once give in or show signs of weakness. It is a poem emphasizing the significance of free will and rationalism. This famous poem Invictus was written in 1875 by the English Poet William Ernest Henley. Henley writes, “Under the bludgeonings of chance/ My head is bloody, but unbowed.” While he may have physical scars, he has never bowed his head in defeat; instead, he has kept it held high. This is similar in feeling to the idea of St John of the Cross, the Spanish mystic, writing in the 16th century of 'the dark night of the soul', where the human spirit has lost its normal confident, self-assured status. The poet certainly knew hard times and needed all his strength to battle against disease. The leg was amputated, and doctors thought they would have to do the same to the other leg, as well, but Henley persuaded another doctor to try a new treatment that was able to prevent amputation. Ich dank, welch Gott es geben mag, dass unbezwungn ist meine Seel. Join the conversation by. Thank you! More importantly, the poem's message is universal in its appeal. Invictus by William Ernest Henley is an inspirational poem. Again, the reader is advised that there will be no capitulation, no giving in. Nelson Mandela has been depicted in films on multiple occasions. Invictus in Latin means unconquered. Knowing that this poem was written by Henley while he was in the hospital being treated for tuberculosis of the bone. In 1902, Henley fell from a railway carriage that caused his latent tuberculosis to flare up. Moreover, it is important here to think about the connotations of the word “night.” Since it is dark and one cannot see, it is easy for horrible things to happen, particularly when the night is “black as the Pit.” It is also curious that Henley chose to capitalize “Pit,” using a simile to compare the darkness of the night to this hole. The expression of the speaker creates a serious yet uplifting mood inside the text. Without complex line structures, it sends out a simple message to its readers - … The nautical imagery once again returns in this stanza, with the speaker referring to himself as a captain, but also commenting that it does not matter how narrow the path is to the gates of the afterlife, he will make it with no problems. It does not matter to him how narrow the gate to heaven is. Introspective Chameleon (B & W) Invictus Motivational Gedicht William Ernest Henley 4 (Himmel Hölle), Kunstdruck Foto Poster Einzigartiges Geschenk 18 x 12 inch: 29,99€ 2: Invictus: Selected Poems & Prose of W E Henley: Selected Poems and Prose of W. E. Henley: 57,43€ 3: Poems: 17,99€ 4: In Hospital: 11,99€ 5 Invictus means unconquerable or undetected in Latin. Andrew has a keen interest in all aspects of poetry and writes extensively on the subject. Although the poem doesn't explicitly mention christianity, there is a sense that this opening line is rooted in religiousness. Every single person that visits PoemAnalysis.com has helped contribute, so thank you for your support. Thus, we can safely assume “Invictus” is about the speaker’s pain and uncertainty of his future. Moreover, in the last two lines of this stanza, Henley uses metaphor and epigram as well. Henley wrote Invictus whilst in hospital undergoing treatment for tuberculosis of the bones, specifically those in his left leg, which had to be amputated from the knee down. The last two lines of William Ernest Henley’s poem ‘Invictus‘ contain invaluable advice to those who blame God for their failures. Moreover, when he is being judged, no matter how many punishments are listed, he will have decided his fate, and he will have steered his course. The imagery is strong. In the last stanza, his voice contains a tone of rejection and it becomes more authoritative. The speaker here suggesting that despite being battered and wounded there is still no subservient or self-pitying bow of the head. As an example, the first feet of the first and second lines of the poem are trochaic. The meaning of Invictus is unconquerable or undefeated in Latin. Invictus is a Latin word meaning: Unconquered, Undefeated, Unvanquished. Trotz Pein, die mir das Leben war, man sah kein Zucken, sah kein Toben. Invictus (unbezwungen) Aus finstrer Nacht, die mich umragt, durch Dunkelheit mein‘ Geist ich quäl. It has a set rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef ghgh. Later the poem got reprinted in several 19th-century newspapers under various titles such as, “Myself,” “Master of His Fate,” “Captain of My Soul,” and “De Profundis.” The well-known title ‘Invictus’ was added to the poem by Arthur Quiller-Couch, the editor of the “Oxford Book of English Verse (1900).”. Invictus " is a very short Victorian poem written by William Ernest Henley. The poem was written while Henley was in the hospital being treated for tuberculosis of the bone, also known as Pott's disease. In the first stanza of ‘Invictus’, the speaker immediately sets the stage for his reader. They became friends and corresponded on a regular basis. In these two lines, the poet also creates a metaphor, as the night to which the speaker refers can represent any quandary in which the speaker finds himself. Invictus, meaning "unconquerable" or "undefeated" in Latin, is a poem by William Ernest Henley. The ailment resulted in the amputation of his left leg below the knee in 1868-69. The poem is consist of 4 stanzas with 4 lines each, which makes 16 lines in total. He says, “Out of the night that covers me,/Black as the Pit from pole to pole.” Henley’s use of imagery is strong from the very first line of the poem. By Dr Oliver Tearle ‘Invictus’ is a famous poem, even to those who haven’t heard of it. "Invictus" was written by William Ernest Henley in 1875, while he underwent medical treatment for tuberculosis of the bone. Henley writes, “Beyond this place of wrath and tears/ Looms but the Horror of the shade.” The speaker seems to be saying here that he knows that what he has endured in this life is nothing compared to what lies ahead in the “shade,” which is a reference to death. Henley’s most famous and inspirational poem, that resonates with people worldwide. Brown, and the University of St. Andrews. The speaker looks into the future, taking into account all the anger and pain associated with life on earth, and particularly in places such as hospitals. Invictus is a poem which focuses on the human spirit and its ability to overcome adversity. Meaning of the Poem ‘Invictus’ by William Ernest Henley 'Invictus', a poem said to have inspired great men, is a highly motivational piece of poetry that will surely boost your morale. After logging in you can close it and return to this page. Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site. Subscribe to our mailing list and get new poetry analysis updates straight to your inbox. Invictus, meaning "unconquerable" or "undefeated" in Latin, is a poem by William Ernest Henley. It is a rallying cry for those who find themselves in dark and trying situations, who have to dig deep and fight for their lives. He was an English poet, writer, critic, and editor in the late Victorian period. When the poet writes this poem … Meaning of the Poem: Invictus is a short Victorian poem by the English poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903). BY WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY . The fourth stanza, while still fairly dark, is somewhat more uplifting, particularly in the last two lines of the poem. Poetry Analysis: Invictus by William Ernest Henley. Fate is just an abstract idea that obstructs one’s thought process. The rising rhythm of the poem sets an optimistic mood in the poem. In the following two stanzas, the speaker’s tone becomes firmer. The third stanza of ‘Invictus’ takes a darker turn, for the speaker refers to an afterlife that is filled with horror. The poem's … The second stanza is a continuation of the first. Stevenson later admitted that he had based his character Long John Silver - from the book Treasure Island - on Henley, he having a wooden leg, a strong rasping voice and a forceful personality. I enjoyed the stanza by stanza analysis. Before we get to the meat of the analysis, here’s a background on the poem’s title and its writer, William Ernest Henley. It means a great deal to me, and I encourage you to enjoy it as well… INVICTUS. Des Schicksals Schläg in … The out-worldly agents have no control over one’s mind or soul. Throughout it all, however, he perseveres and is successful in his endeavors. Invictus Poem 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 This famous inspirational poem charges us to accept responsibility for our lives no matter our circumstances. For my unconquerable soul. William Ernest Henley (1849-1903), an English Poet, had one of his legs amputated at the age of 17. We are the master of our destiny. This poem depicts the poet’s attempt to motivate himself when there is no hope at all. In the early 1870s, he faced a similar problem with his other leg. The poem begins with a personification. 'Invictus', a poem said to have inspired great men, is a highly motivational piece of poetry that will surely boost your morale. It was during his time in Edinburgh that Henley met the writer Robert Louis Stevenson. The word symbol derives from the Greek word “symbolon” meaning token or watchword. We are responsible for our own happiness. Henley also employs alliteration in this stanza, repeating the “b” sound, which creates a harsh rhythm to the poem. (Online Etymology Dictionary) “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley is a poem about not being afraid when the death is approaching, and holding on to one’s honor in spite of the discourtesy life places for us. Henley’s life, it becomes apparent that the poem Invictusarose from the poet’s own experiences. The message of self-mastery in this poem touched Mandela deeply. In these lines, Henley personifies circumstance, giving it human-like qualities to show just how tightly the events of one’s life can take hold. “In the fell clutch of circumstance” or “Under the bludgeonings of chance”, he has not bowed his head. He managed to save his right leg by refusing surgery and seeking an alternative form of treatment from a Scottish doctor, James Lister. These last two lines are considered to be some of the most famous lines in all of literature, and they are a continued source of inspiration for people of all walks of life. Lastly, Henley wrote this poem to express his disbelief in conventional notions regarding God or fate. But, it shall find the speaker, unafraid. He has a passion for poetry and enjoys analysing and providing interpretations for poetry from the past and present. Please log in again. In the second line, there is a simile and the comparison is made between the darkness of night to the color of the pit. Politicians and authors also love to quote the inspirational last two lines of the poem: In this poem, the speaker is faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges. Invictus ist ein kurzes viktorianisches Gedicht von William Ernest Henley (1849–1903). He wrote the poem in 1875 and dedicated it Scottish flour merchant named Robert Thomas Hamilton Bruce. The basic idea is that, no matter what life throws at you don't let it get you down. Analysis team back in November, 2010 homocentrism is another important aspect the., the speaker, unafraid projects a sense of insecurity, but the courage of the night becomes! His 1875 poem ‘ Invictus ’ books of poetry and enjoys analysing providing. Uncertainty of his legs amputated at the age of 17 glimpse of speaker... Takes a darker turn, for the reader is advised that there will be banned from the and. A trochee as the pit / from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be, and.! 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