Invictus / The Soul’s Captain

Invictus – by William Emest Henley (23 August 1849 – 11 July 1903)

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

The Soul’s Captain – by Orson F. Whitney (LDS Apostle April 9, 1906-16 May 1931)

Art thou in truth? Then what of Him

Who bought thee with His blood?
Who plunged into devouring seas
And snatched thee from the flood,

Who bore for all our fallen race
What none but Him could bear–
That God who died that man might live
And endless glory share.

Of what avail thy vaunted strength
Apart from His vast might?
Pray that His light may pierce the gloom
That thou mayest see aright.

Men are as bubbles on the wave,
As leaves upon the tree,
Thou, captain of thy soul! Forsooth,
Who gave that place to thee?

Free will is thine- free agency,
To wield for right or wrong;
But thou must answer unto Him
To whom all souls belong.

Bend to the dust that “head unbowed,”
Small part of life’s great whole,
And see in Him and Him alone,
The captain of thy soul.

My daughter as one of her Home Schooling projects memorized “Invictus” so I started to do a little research on it.  I love the part of the poem where it says “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”  In the process I found a response to it by an LDS apostle.   What are your thoughts on one or both of these poems?


  1. This was my first exposure to both and I love them.

    That fierceness and indomitable will of Henley and the rebuttal of Whitney.

    I feel like I know what both of them are trying to say and while I can understand Whitney's words on who is really in charge-to me they were unnecessary.

    Hemley is already thanking the gods for his unconquerable soul and by being the master of his own fate and captain of his own soul-he is speaking an absolute truth.

    We have CHOICE, free agency, to me this is such a Mormon tennant somewhat unique in comparison to many other religions. We aren't fated to do this or that we aren't powerless to wrought what we will for good or evil-we make the choice and hopefull make the right choice, assisted by righteous guidance.

    While I would say Whitney is talented, I like Henley's a lot more. In part I'm sure because it is that type of heroic will I hope I portray in my own novels.

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