Sunday, June 6, 2010

"Invictus"

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.

~ English poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903)

Nelson Mandela spent TWENTY-SEVEN years as a political prisoner held by the apartheid-era government of South Africa, most of that time on Robben Island, 7 km off the coast of Cape Town, SA. Mandela found the strength every single incarcerated day to keep the flame alive, and upon his release forgave the people who persecuted and punished him, going on to become "the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election."

And according to the story told in the poem's namesake movie (Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman as Mandela, as well as Matt Damon, directed by Clint Eastwood), Henley's poem played a significant role in keeping Mandela alive.

If he can do it in a 6x6 cell, for twenty-seven effing years, I can too. No matter what they say.

If you haven't seen this film, do it. Soon.

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