When I learned of the news of the passing of Nelson Mandela this week, I was reminded of the poem he allegedly shared as encouragement with fellow prisoners. The beautiful poem was written by William Ernest Henley in the Victorian era. Lines from the poem have been quoted in movies, such as Casablanca, advertising campaigns and everything in between, but it will always remind me of Mr. Mandela.


What Lies Beneath: Midlife Tulip, Digital Photography © 2013 SuZan Alexander

by William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)

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.


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