Finding inspiration in ‘Invitus’, the poem and the movie

Saw the movie “Invitus” (2009 biographical sports drama film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon) while visiting friends in Vacaville last week. It is based on the John Carlin book “Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation” about the post-apartheid rugby World Cup.

Invitus” refers to the Victorian poem of stoicism Nelson Mandela recited to fellow inmates at Robben Island prison. In the movie it is used as inspiration for the mostly white South African rugby team to win the rugby World Cup.

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.

“Invictus” by the English poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903)

I would like to think that I am as stoic as poet William Ernest Henley, who wrote the poem while recovering from having a portion of his leg amputated because of a tubercular infection. The poem is seen as his resilience following that.

I am not sure I have that sort of internal strength. I can only be inspired to attempt to overcome my own challenges.

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