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.
- William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)
This is one of the very first poems I memorized (right after Jabberwocky), when I was fifteen or so. It spoke strongly to me then, and even though I tend to find it a bit overwrought these days, it's been popping into my mind somewhat frequently the last week. I may even have chanted it a bit in the MRI machine. So, let us give Henley his due.