Friday, April 21, 2006


I just read somewhere that April 19 was the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombings. This, of course, reminded me of Timothy McVeigh, which wound up reminding me of the poem he had read by the court officer as his last statement on the morning he was executed. I remember going to work that day and people were talking about it. Someone said something to the effect that they were surprised at how eloquent he was. Apparently, there were people who thought that he wrote the poem. He did not. It's called Invictus and was written by William Ernest Henley in 1875. It's one of those poems that you run across periodically, or at least you run across parts of it periodically.

I memorized this poem in high school for English class. I remember that the kids in the movie version of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, based on Maya Angelou's biography of the same name, recited the poem. The last two lines are also available on this compass rose necklace at uncommon goods. So, as I said, this is not a relatively unknown poem. It's also stayed with me all this time. Here it is in its entirety.


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 straight the gait
how charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul


Anonymous said...

Not to be a bid morbit or anything, but it is a suitable poem for Timothy's last moments. It is a beautiful poem. I am wondering, where did you get the picture of the necklace. Is that necklace for sale? I especially like the last two lines of that poetry, and am wondering where I can get that necklace.

Luka said...

i LOVE this poem! It's my favorite! :-)

JoanneMarie Faust said...

Jay ~ you can find the necklace at Uncommon Goods. They have really great stuff.