The philosophy of humanism is eloquently expressed in William Ernest Henley’s famous poem, “Invictus”:
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.
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.
(however, that was not how Henley felt when he wrote the poem) At the age of 12, he developed tubercular arthritis, and his left foot was amputated in his teens. He had other health problems later on, and actually wrote “Invictus” while once again in the hospital, too ill to work. He was, as his poem says, “bloody, but unbowed.” For Henley, “Invictus” was an expression of courage in the face of life’s difficulties.