July 2014

Friday would have been Nelson Mandela’s 96th birthday, and to honor the recently lost hero of equality, many people celebrated Mandela Day. As I read more about his life and work last week, my respect for he and his contemporaries only increased.

Mandela was a voracious reader and has often credited the poem ‘Invictus’ with being “one of the most powerful pieces of literature [that he had] read, which inspired [him] to struggle for freedom and a just society” (more about Mandela here).

In honor of Mandela and his fight for justice and peace throughout his life, we would like to share this favorite poem of his.

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.