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Life is a spiritual event. Those people and things we love inspire us to keep our heads up and our souls unconquerable. William Ernest Henley provided us with wonderful words that echo this way of understanding life and its relationships.

Apparently, this was Nelson Mandela’s favourite poem. When I read it, I understand what made it important in his life and what it reveals about leadership.

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.

About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school. My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. In teaching and leanring, I am a boundary-crosser who understands moving ahead is a leap of faith. Teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, boundary-crosser, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

20 responses »

  1. Yes, this is a most inspirational poem for holding on! It got me through some dark days, my son as well and he even has a few lines on his back in a permanent fashion! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Very moving words my friend! I enjoyed it so!

  3. Yes it is an inspiring piece.

  4. I aspire to believe these words that inspire me now whenever I am in the thick of it, facing whatever may chance to come my way. Thanks for sharing such poetic wisdom today.

  5. Pride is not the absence of shame… Courage is not the absence of fear… They are proofs of overcoming our weaknesses. I love the poem!

  6. Very good piece of work, I like it, good post.

  7. super-connu… j’ai utilisé la dernière strophe comme “motto” d’un post d’il y a qqs mois… amitiés sincères, Mélanie

  8. This is so self aware. Truly spiritual. Truly human.

  9. Great Words. Inspiring poem.
    Wishing you very Happy New Year 2014.
    All the Best.


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