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INVICTUS

7 October 2005

When in court for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta on April 20, 2005, American terrorist bomber Eric Rudolph stated, “By the grace of God, I am still here — a little bloodied, but emphatically unbowed.” (see http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/04/15/schuster.column/).

This is an obvious reference to the poem, Invictus (Latin for “unconquered”) by William Ernest Henley, and which includes the line “Under the bludgeonings of chance / My head is bloody, but unbowed.”

The entire poem also served as the last words of executed American terrorist bomber Timothy McVeigh. The entire poem is as follows:

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.
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” is my favorite poem. When McVeigh quoted it a few years back, the lines “I am the master of my fate: / I am the captain of my soul” were usually the only ones included by the media. Whenever this happened I always added to anyone within earshot that my favorite part was “In the fell clutch of circumstance / I have not winced nor cried aloud. / Under the bludgeonings of chance / My head is bloody, but unbowed,” which is the part referenced by Rudolph.

I’m a little disturbed that my taste in poetry is shared by such foul company.

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