My Thoughts about William Ernest Henley’s Poem, “Invictus”


“Invictus,” by William Ernest Henley

The theme of this poem is you decide your own faith. The theme is explained throughout the thoroughness of Henley’s pain. The poem explains how much pain Henley is experiencing. However, Henley refuses to let this be the end of his life. He doesn’t care how much suffering and torture he is having physically because mentally he is unruffled.  I know that Henley feels this way because he said “Under the bludgeoning of chance, my head is bloody, but unbowed.” Henley is not afraid because he is in charge of his own conviction, faith.

The poem, “Invictus,” has many real word applications. The average teenager views on religion just so happens to be one. Henley doesn’t care about for Heaven or hell, and frankly most people at his age don’t either. He implies even if there is a “god”, no matter what he has done, good or bad, he controls is own life and faith. I know this because of the fourth stanza, “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.” Henley is this cocky teenager who feels like he can decide has actions and make his own consequences like most teenager the in real word applications.

I can apply the poem, “Invictus,” to my life. This poem relates to me because I’m an atheist. (The same way Henley infers that he controls his own faith I feel the same way every day.) The only difference is it didn’t take so much pain for me to realize this. I had the same cocky attitude that Henley has I had. I used to be cocky until I realized that attitude wouldn’t get me anywhere academic wise, but in sports I come off very cocky because I have to win, no exceptions. I’ve had pain before, but I’ve never had my legs cut off so I don’t think I can relate to him when it comes to his pain.

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