“I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.”
– William Henley, Invictus
The truth is that I have. I have winced and I have cried, but afterward I have dried my tears, set up my laptop, and written the words in my heart. Maybe not every day—I have certainly succumbed to the emotions and the difficulties of the process. But in aggregate, I have written more days than I have given up. I have spent more days fighting off the face of resistance than bowing down to it. Perhaps William Henley was stronger—he wrote those words. Without wincing or crying aloud. He stared down a blank scroll and wrote about his unconquerable soul.
I wish that I felt that strong every day, every moment, but I don’t believe that my soul is unconquerable. Some days the reality of a blank page or an unedited manuscript is too much to stomach with all the pressures and deadlines of life and a paying job. But I find strength in his words and their portrayal of the author, of the individual, as someone who can fight off all of life’s demons and uncertainties to emerge in triumph.
On the day Henley wrote those words, there is no doubt that he was inspired. His soul was unconquerable, his fight had been won. When I reflect on that moment rationally, I know that it cannot have been like that for him every day. There would have been days when he felt the same way that I have. There would have been days that left his soul feeling vapid and empty when the weight of the world overtook writing, the purpose of his soul. Yet I cannot thank him enough for giving me the vision behind those words. The unconquerable soul is not one that never falls short in the face of adversity, but one that rises again and again to battle against it. And finally to overcome it in aggregate, because while some battles may be lost, we can still win the war.
You can read the full poem here at: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/182194
My first novel AHRIMAN: THE SPIRIT OF DESTRUCTION (Book I of The Ahriman Legacy) is available as an ebook at and a paperback at Amazon.com. http://hyperurl.co/ahriman.