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Stuart Merrill poesy / United States, Male, 55
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    Stuart Merrill's last comments on poems and poets

    • POEM: Invictus by William Ernest Henley (2/8/2011 12:29:00 PM)

      Hello Poemhunter,

      I recently exchanged comments with Keith Leach about themes in the poem Invictus by William Henley concerning hubris versus humility as responses to the perceived lack of control over one's fate in life, especially concerning illness (like Henley in the poem) . What better way to discuss these themes than relate them to our own experiences? Illness and infirmity are sensitive subjects, but I thought we dealt with them sensitively, yet honestly. I wonder why they were removed? Were they too sensitive for Poemhunter? Is it cultural incorrectness? It seems like an arbitrary decision to remove them, especially when reading all the other comments. So, I'm perplexed. I think it's hard to argue that the comments did not deal with touchy subjects that are logically and emotionally very related to the poem.

      I would really like to understand your general policy and specific reason for removing the comments.


      I would really appreciate feedback from other users of the site who read my comments before they were removed. Please send me a private message via Poemhunter's system. Was I out of line? Thank you.

    • POEM: Invictus by William Ernest Henley (2/1/2011 6:17:00 PM)

      Thank you Keith for the response. Yes, I questioned myself after writing what I wrote, my first post on the site too. There is no doubt in my mind that your ordeal has left you in a position to understand the poem far better than I, and humbled you greatly. Besides the 'being in control of one's life' issue, the humility/hubris dichotomy is another theme that I have thought a lot about in a very personal way. You see, I am basically a reforming narcissist (not with a capital 'N' as in a full-blown personality disorder but yes as a way to sub-consciously protect myself from feeling 'out of control') . So I am very sensitive when I think I perceive it in others. Although I can't validly complain about my life when compared to the tribulations you've had to endure, I indeed was dealt a raw childhood and subsequently have made a lot of bad decisions in 28 years of adult life that have left me, well, somewhat lonely, depressed, and angry at myself... and very humbled in my own way.

      I know it appears callous for me to suggest that a sick person as yourself may be hubristic, sorry. But I've actually seen it in quite sick people that I know well. I think that extreme hardship makes one deeper, insightful, more capable of seeing many points of view. However I find life essentially paradoxical, and hardship can at the same time create feelings of 'I've been to hell and back... now I truly see things as they truly are without blinders, undistorted by any lens.' I don't think so.

      So that's what I was (over) reacting to. Thank you for explaining where you were coming from. I've tried to do the same. As far as Michael B's comment, it dramatically shows how offended he was in a manner that would be hard to match any other way. And with the internet, conventions of civility and decorum are out the window. Parents have a big responsibility these days. Also, it's a poetry website. Poetry has never pulled any punches and is not always necessarily for kids. I sincerely wish you the very best.

    • POEM: Invictus by William Ernest Henley (1/30/2011 3:44:00 PM)

      It's a powerful poem, and I'm interested in the paradox some of the comments touch on that we simultaneously are and are not 'in control' of our lives. I think it’s true. Those of you that are ill and suffering well understand the things beyond your control, yet many of you realize the importance of the spirit of the Invictus poem. “God” may approve of fist-shaking defiance.

      I find the christians/non-christian divisiveness here a bit vapid, yet I have no problem that Rhebergen rewrote the poem and that Hell Yes said what he said. I'm also fine with Michael B's way of making his point.

      Thank you Mr. Leach for some background on the poem. That’s helpful. However I think on a poetry site word choice is important, so I must object to your, “I LITERALLY see all points of view.” It certainly hyperbole. I hope it’s not hubris. You don’t seem to “see” Michael B’s.