Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Invictus" by William Ernest Henley (1849–1903)

My sincerest thanks to my friend Jimmy M. for posting this to his Facebook status the other night.The Martial Artists of days of yore were also creative with Music, Calligraphy, Art or even Poetry. I have no aptitude for Poetry, let alone Writing, but inspiring poems like this gets my creative juices flowing.

Photo Credit:  Wiki

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invictus

At the age of 13, Henley contracted tuberculosis of the bone. A few years later, the disease progressed to his foot, and physicians announced that the only way to save his life was to amputate directly below the knee. It was amputated when he was 17. Stoicism inspired him to write this poem. Despite his disability, he survived with one foot intact and led an active life until his death at the age of 53.


William Ernest Henley is known to most people by virtue of this single poem.

As mentioned previously, Henley was hospitalized for tuberculosis. One of his legs was amputated in order to save his life; it was said to be very painful. Immediately after the amputation, he received news that another operation would have to be done on his other leg. However, he decided to enlist the help of a different doctor named Joseph Lister. Under Lister's care he was able to keep his other leg by undergoing intensive surgery on his remaining foot. While recovering from this surgery in the infirmary, he was moved to write the words of Invictus. This period of his life, coupled with the reality of an impoverished childhood, plays a major role in the meaning behind the poem; it is also the prime reason for this poem's existence.

Is this powerful or what? Does it inspire you to try your hand at composing a poem? Enjoy!

Please check out these other posts on Poetry:



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