Last evening, our Couples Life Group had a very helpful discussion about one’s view of human nature and its relation to stress and anxiety. Because we were short on time, there were a few items that I chose to skip over in the interest of getting to the end of the material for the night. One of those items is the poem “Invictus,” (Latin for “unconquered”) by William Ernest Henley; a poem which captures modern man’s view of the self as autonomous, self-reliant, and even defiant toward God.

Out of the light 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.

In response to “Invictus,” Dorothy Day composed a poem which she called, “Conquered.”

Out of the light that dazzles me,
Bright as the sun from pole to pole,
I thank the God I know to be,
For Christ – the Conqueror of my soul.

Since His the sway of circumstance,
I would not wince nor cry aloud.
Under the rule which men call chance,
My head, with joy, is humbly bowed.

Beyond this place of sin and tears,
That Life with Him and His the Aid,
That, spite the menace of the years,
Keeps, and will keep me unafraid.

I have no fear though straight the gate:
He cleared from punishment the scroll.
Christ is the Master of my fate!
Christ is the Captain of my soul!

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