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Jon Whiting Fredericksburg VA / United States, Male, 61
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  • POEM: Invictus by William Ernest Henley (10/5/2010 6:45:00 AM)

    Just another viewpoint -
    Henley represents himself as one who is impervious to pain and hardship and is determined not to even remotely consider introspection in such times of trial. His motto could be, “Stay the course, come what may.” Being “unconquerable” sounds macho, but we all know that the love of another or that of one’s God can merit a bit of conquering! When proven wrong, one may be obstinate or allow the facts to conquer our pride and prompt us to apology.

    The spirit of determination and conviction pictured here is certainly admirable when one is standing for principle. Many have died while refusing to bow to tyranny, persecution or torture, but the nobility is of greater value when the cause is greater than merely pride or personal aggrandizement.

    In verse three, Henley speaks of future “Horror” beyond the hardships of the present. Perhaps he refers only to the empty void or oblivion that some believe awaits those who die. But, the word “Horror” sounds ominous enough to describe a hell of sorts anticipated by those who defy or deny their Creator. This fatalistic attitude is not completely unlikely and is even referenced in the biblical book of Revelation where those suffering tribulation woes curse the God they know has sanctioned their judgment. To claim to be unafraid in this context sounds somewhat boastful and premature.

    In the final verse, Henley references the “strait” gate. While this could have been pulled from the words of Jesus found in the Gospels, it may simply be a reference to the author’s willingness to take the hard path. Line two seems to be an unavoidable reference to the “scroll” or book opened in the final judgment that records the sins of the condemned and (supposedly) the pronouncement of “punishments” in the Lake of Fire (again, Revelation) . Henley supposes that his judgment before God will somehow be overruled by his own human power of self-determination. One wonders if Henley understood the concept that a captain can choose to challenge the reefs with his vessel, but once upon the savage rocks, his will cannot overturn the shipwreck he has caused by his arrogance.

    We can all make choices, we cannot control the results, but we do have to live with them.