Sunday, December 12, 2010

Understanding the poem "Invictus"

We recently saw the movie Invictus, Clint Eastwood's offering of a story about Nelson Mandela and the South African Springbok Rugby team. In the movie, Mandela mentions that while in prison he drew strength from the poem "Invictus". Curious about the poem, I looked it up on Google, and found this:

What is the meaning of the poem Invictus?
Invictus, meaning "unconquerable" or "undefeated" in Latin, is a poem by William Ernest Henley. The poem was written while Henley was in the hospital being treated for tuberculosis of the bone, also known as Pott's disease. He had had the disease since he was very young, and his foot had been amputated shortly before he wrote the poem. This poem is about courage in the face of death, and holding on to one's own dignity despite the indignities life places before us.

An analysis of the poem: [...]

I found the whole thing interesting. The author was a life-long atheist. Apparently he was also the inspiration for the peg-leg pirate character of Long John Silver in the book Treasure Island.

Also see:

English professor Marion Hoctor: The meaning of 'Invictus'

From Wikipedia: Invictus

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