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    • POEM: Invictus by William Ernest Henley (11/19/2009 2:22:00 PM)

      some brief personal history. I'm 79 yrs old, experiencing structual failure and some system failure. don't remember when I first read this poem. I am neither a student or a critic of poetry. I understand that the poem was banned by the clergy when it was published for it's seemingly agnostic overtones. I struggled as a young man to define myself, seek support for emotional turmoil. I had no idea of Henley's personal life or of that time in literary history. I did find insperation and determination in the poem. I, also, read Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay on 'Self Reliance'. Over the years, I have recomended both writings to my children and grandchildren. I was born Jewish, been Bar Mitzvoh, and long ago drifted away from organized religion, tho I retained my Jewish identity. Whenever I speak to someone who is fervently involved in their beliefs I shy away. Seems to me they think they are the sole posessors of the 'Truth'. What is 'Truth'? It is reality as one percives it. It is a belief system that one commits to. Seems to me that there are many pathways to the 'Truth'. From the most primitave of societies to the most sophisticated. Who am I to say that you are wrong, that I am right. The inhumanities that have been commited in the name of the 'Truth' are rife throughout history. Both pieces of literature seem to support that thesis and have been a guide for me. My only prejudice is against prejudice, lack of tolerance, the refusal to accept an individual based on personal merit. I'm a strong believer in accepting resposibility for one's own behaviour. I belive that no can can manipulate me without my permission. The strength of these two pieces of literature have sustained me over many years and continue to do so.