Invictus was originally an untitled poem when it was first published by its author William Ernest Henley in 1888. Invictus means unconquered. It was added later by editor Arthur Quiller-Couch when it was included in Oxford Book of English Verse.


The poem was written by Henley when he was recovered due to complications from tuberculosis. This part of his life and his poor childhood were the main inspiration of the poem.


In September 1941, Winston Churchill paraphrased the last two lines of the poem in his speech to House of Common. Nelson Mandela recited the poem when he was in prison in Robben Island. The last stanza of the poem was read by Obama when Nelson Mandela passed away. Nobel Peace winner and the opposition leader in Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, said that this poem was the inspiration of her father’s struggles for Myanmar’s independence from the British Empire.


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.


The message of the poem is the very reason people relate it to human rights. We are the master of our own fate; we are the captain of our unconquerable soul. What do you think? Share it with us!


Additional notes:

  • unconquerable (adjective) = tidak dapat ditaklukkan

  • clutch (noun) = cengkeraman

  • wince (verb) = menunjukkan rasa takut atau sakit (dari ekspresi wajah)

  • bludgeon (verb) = memukul seseorang dengan keras dan terus menerus; memaksa orang lain untuk melakukan selalu

  • wrath (noun) = kemurkaan, rasa geram

  • loom (verb)  = muncul, biasanya sesuatu hal yang besar dan menakutkan

  • strait (adjective, archaic) = sempit, terbatas (ruang)  

Tags: Vocabulary Tags: Use of english

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