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This poem talks about the difficult circumstances that the poet has had to go through, and how he made it through them. The poet focuses on how his individual strength and brave soul have helped him through hard times. He remains ready to face the future, unafraid of the challenges that may come with it.
Most of all, he wants to be in control of his own life and decide its course by himself. The title “Invictus” means undefeated or unconquerable in Latin, and this is what the poet considers the nature of his soul to be. The poem has 16 lines divided into 4 stanzas. The rhyme scheme of each stanza is abab.
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.
The poet begins the poem by coming out of the night that covers him. The night is as black as the pit of hell and seems to fill the whole world, from pole to pole. The night represents the dark times or the hardships that the poet has had to go through. He thanks whatever gods that may exist for his unconquerable soul. Thus, although there is darkness or hardship all around him, the speaker feels grateful to any gods that might exist for his brave spirit that cannot be defeated.
In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed.
When the poet was in the wicked clutch of circumstance, he did not wince or cry out loud. He compares his past suffering to being trapped in a giant fist. But although such circumstances were harsh, he was strong enough to make it through without crying. Under the bludgeonings of chance, his head is bloody, but unbowed. This time the poet compares the unexpected mishaps he has faced to the violent beatings inflicted by a club. The poet’s head might be injured from these attacks that he suffered because of chance or fate, but he still holds it high and refuses to bow down or submit.
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.
The poet now looks beyond the present full of anger and tears. However, in the future, looms the horror of death. Death hangs over the future like a terrifying shade or shadow. But the poet says that death, the menace of the years, or any kind of difficulties that lay ahead, shall find him unafraid. So, he is not fearful of the shadow of death that no human can avoid. The difficult times that he has been through and the strength of his own soul has prepared him to face future difficulties and death without fear.
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.
It does not matter how strait the gate or narrow the path that he must follow in his life becomes. This means that the poet is not bothered by the difficult situations he will have to face. He does not care how full of punishments the scroll or the book of fate controlling his life might be. He is unbothered by these things because he believes that he is the master of his fate and the captain of his soul. He is not afraid of anything because he controls the course of his own life and is in charge of his own soul.
This poem teaches us the importance of inner strength. The poet has made it through many hardships because of the strength of his soul, and he is ready to face the future without fear owing to the same strength. He also inspires us to take charge of our own lives and shape our own fate.