“Invictus Reborn”

Some of you may be familiar with a poem titled “Invictus.”  It runs like this:

 

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.

According to Wikipedia (a “not-so-scholarly” but useful source), “Invictus” was written by an Englishman, William Ernest Henley, in 1875, but not published until 1888. It acquired its current title, “Invictus” (which is Latin for “unconquered”), in 1900, as part of The Oxford Book of English Verse (see Wikipedia).  Interestingly, another online source notes that Henley originally wrote the poem while in the hospital, undergoing treatment for “tuberculosis of the bone.”

On the one hand, “Invictus” is a deeply compelling poem.  Its rhythm and language evoke something from deep within ourselves; an acknowledgement that life so often means struggle with trial, and a corresponding resolve – almost primal cry – for victory nonetheless.  But, on the other hand, “Invictus” is deeply disturbing. Notice what it is that comes gushing out as a primal cry: it’s Godless self-dependence evidenced in shameless self-worship.  Make no mistake, these are the echoes of the Garden…

Now, good news! “Invictus” has been reborn…reborn in words that redeem what is otherwise lost.  Here is “Invictus” in new language, penned (with some input) by one of our very own Felton Bible Church young people:

 

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank the God who will always be

For my unconquerable soul.

 

In the mysterious clutch of divinity

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Secure in the grip of the Trinity

Head held high, yet bowed.

 

Beyond this place of trials and tears

Awaits but the splendor of Life,

And now the promise of the years

Finds, and shall find me, freed from strife.

 

It matters not how strait the gate,

How blotted and soiled the scroll,

The I AM is the master of my fate:

Jesus is the captain of my soul

 

May you enjoy the truth of “Invictus Reborn.”

 

 

 

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