17 December, 2009


I am currently on holiday, visiting my family in Missouri.  I will not be returning to my home, nor do I plan on writing a subsequent blog until after the Christmas holiday.  With that said, I wish you all a very, merry Christmas shared with, and surrounded by those you love.
Earlier today, I went with my dad and mom to see the movie “Invictus,” directed by Clint Eastwood and staring Morgan Freeman in the role of Nelson Mandela.  [This is not a movie-spoiler.]  Although I knew the movie tied the leadership of Mandela to the success of the South African National rugby team, I was unaware of the movie’s
awe-inspiring portrayal of the power of forgiveness under the example of Mandela.

The movie begins with the release of Mandela from prison and the fall of apartheid in South Africa and then quickly segues to ultimately portray Mandela’s life during his term as president when he campaigned to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup event as an opportunity to unite his countrymen.  The movie beautifully and eloquently displays the powerful tool that forgiveness became in the ability of one man to unite an entire nation.

In the movie, Mandela offers to the captain of the rugby team (played by Matt Damon) a handwritten copy of the poem ("Invictus") that he accredited for sustaining him and causing him to prevail even when he was at his lowest points during his 27 years of imprisonment.  Below, I offer a copy of this poem.

As background, the poet, William Ernest Henley, at the age of 12 became victim to tuberculosis of the bone.  The title of the poem, “Invictus,” is a Latin word which translates to mean "unconquerable” or “undefeated."  Henley penned this poem in 1875 from his hospital bed after having his leg amputated as a result of his condition.  This poem was first published in 1888 in Henley's Book of Verses, where it was the fourth in a series of poems originally entitled “Life and Death (Echoes).”


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)

[End of Post]
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