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

William Ernest Henley’s poem “Invictus” is an interesting poem. The theme of this poem is bravery and resilience. In the first stanza, the author writes, “I thank whatever gods may be, for my unconquerable soul”. In these two lines, he is showing resilience and audacity towards the foundation of human religious belief. By describing his soul as “unconquerable”, the author is showing arrogance toward the concept of religion. In lines 2 and 4 of the second stanza, the author states in a reply to chance and circumstance, “I have not winced nor cried aloud” and “My head is bloody but unbound.” These two lines show endurance and bravery against the evil circumstances and challenges that approach him. In the third stanza the author writes, “Beyond this place of wrath and tears, Looms but the Horror of the Shade, and yet the menace of the years” These 3 lines show the audacity of the author by showing his complete defiance to the idea of an afterlife. Having established the concept of no afterlife in the poem, the author says about death that it “Finds and shall find me unafraid.” which again shows bravery and fearlessness.

This poem can be very applicable to some people because of it’s fearlessness against adversity. This poem can apply to athletes, the ill, or people in difficult situations. Applying this poem doesn’t mean you take everything you read from it. Instead, you take aspects of it such as the author’s bravery towards circumstance. People going through cancer or other diseases may find this poem to be somewhat of an encouragement and an inspiration to them. Athletes in some sports, particularly players in the NFL, have to be very vicious and fearless, so the idea of choosing your own fate in this poem could be found very useful in applying the correct mindset during play.

Personally, I find this poem very contradicting to who I am as a person. This doesn’t mean I can’t find ways to apply it to myself in order to improve. One way I can apply this is to take a tiny bit of his statements of choosing your fate and be able to recognize that my actions will affect what I go through. Another way I can apply this poem to my life is to take away from his courage and use it in times that I find difficult. Overall, I find this poem very interesting because of its exemplified and exaggerated arrogance and bravery.


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