Invictus. Mandela’s favourite poem
I like Victorian British poets. Their works are a source of timeless beauty and inspiration. However, until recently, William Ernest Henley was not one of them.
I had never heard about him before moving to South Africa (2009-2016). Living in South Africa while Mandela was still alive (1918-2013), you bet I got inspired by his life and legacy. However, while His autobiography Long Walk to Freedom provides a clear and detailed analysis of his personal journey, Clint Eastwood’s movie Invictus left me with key epic images of his life.
For instance, the movie’s title directly references Mandela’s favourite poem of W.E. Henley. Mandela used to recite this laic prayer during his darkest hours, giving him new strength and motivation to continue.
Do you need additional recommendations before reading it? No, I don’t think so. Enjoy it.
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.
If you appreciate Morgan Freeman – the actor who played Mandela in Eastwood’s movie – you will particularly enjoy this short video interview, where he comments on the poem Invictus and recites it by heart.