I saw the movie Invictus recently. It chronicles how a game of Rugby brings together the erstwhile victims and perpetrators of Apartheid in South Africa. The movie is brilliant by itself what struck me was the poem Invictus that plays a significant role in the movie and hence its use as the title.
While reading about the poem on Wikipedia, could not help but notice that it was written by someone who was not exactly dealt the best cards by life.
And I was reminded of another poem, again written by someone not in the best of circumstances, called Invitation.
I reproduce both these below.
Invictus – By William Ernest Henley
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.
Invitation – By Sri Aurobindo
With the wind and the weather beating around me
Up to the hill and moorland I go
Who will come with me? Who will climb with me?
Wade through the brook and tramp through the snow?
Not in the petty circle of cities
Cramped by your doors and your walls I dwell;
Over me God is blue in the welkin,
Against me the wind and the storm rebel.
I sport with solitude here in my regions,
Of misadventures have made me a friend.
Who would live largely? Who would live freely?
Here to the wind-swept uplands ascend.
I am the Lord of tempest and mountain,
I am the Spirit of freedom and pride.
Stark must he be and a kinsman to danger
Who shares my kingdom and walks by my side.
I wonder what it is about the human condition, that makes it grow radiant when under the crucible of misfortune. Arrayed against the furies and fates, the piffling human soul grows vast enough to take on the elements, space and time.