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HENLEY, William Ernest


Invictus

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 punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.


Life is Bitter...

Life is bitter. All the faces of the years,

Young and old, are gray with travail and with tears.

Must we only wake to toil, to tire, to weep?

In the sun, among the leaves, upon the flowers,

Slumber stills to dreamy death the heavy hours …

Let me sleep.


Riches won but mock the old, unable years;

Fame’s a pearl that hides beneath a sea of tears;

Love must wither, or must live alone and weep.

In the sunshine, through the leaves, across the flowers,

While we slumber, death approaches through the hours …

Let me sleep.


Where forlorn sunsets flare

Where forlorn sunsets flare and fade

On desolate sea and lonely sand,

Out of the silence and the shade

What is the voice of strange command

Calling you still, as friend calls friend

With love that cannot brook delay

To rise and follow the ways that wend

Over the hills and far away?

Hark in the city, street on street

A roaring reach of death and life,

Of vortices that clash and fleet

And ruin in appointed strife,

Hark to it calling, calling clear,

Calling until you cannot stay

From dearer things than your own most dear

Over the hills and far away?

Out of the sound of the ebb-and-flow,

Out of the sight of the lamp and star,

It calls you where the good winds blow,

And the unchanging meadows are;

From faded hopes and hopes agleam,

It calls you, calls you night and day

Beyond the dark into the dream

Over the hills and far away.


I am the Reaper

I am the Reaper.

All things with heedful hook

Silent I gather.

Pale roses touched with the spring,

Tall corn in summer,

Fruits rich with autumn, and frail winter blossoms—

Reaping, still reaping—

All things with heedful hook

Timely I gather.

I am the Sower.

All the unbodied life

Runs through my seed-sheet.

Atom with atom wed,

Each quickening the other,

Fall through my hands, ever changing, still changeless.

Ceaselessly sowing,

Life, incorruptible life,

Flows from my seed-sheet.

Maker and breaker,

I am the ebb and the flood,

Here and Hereafter,

Sped through the tangle and coil

Of infinite nature,

Viewless and soundless I fashion all being.

Taker and giver,

I am the womb and the grave,

The Now and the Ever.