Poetic words of courage

Some people have a gift for putting words together in amazing ways–they are called Poets, of course.  I’m going to see the new film about South Africa and was curious to find the title poem for the film.  Upon reading it, I was thinking about all the courageous birthing women I have known and all the midwives who persist against all odds to make things better for families.


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.

By William Ernest Henley

I think that what William Ernest Henley says so well is that being a self made (wo)man is a matter of declaration and grace.  No matter what happens, we can rise to meet the challenge and get to the other side.  I am the mistress of my fate:  the champion of my soul.

4 thoughts on “Poetic words of courage

  1. This is a post I will be re reading again. . . master of my fate captain of my soul. That reminds of “The dead poets society” one of my favorite movies and one of the students calls his favorite teacher played my Robin Williams: “My captain my Captain” (. . of my soul?)I wonder if he is referring to this poem. Here’s to you Gloria and the difference you have made in my life. xo

  2. I realize this is an old post but I was looking for information about basically any births other than hospital births and was given a link to your blog as a good place to start. I’ve read countless posts but I had to comment on this one. I learned the poem Invictus in grade 10 (about 9 years ago now) and its words helped carry me through years of depression. However, in the past few years as I’ve been depression free I’ve lost touch with it, somehow feeling I didn’t need it anymore. I’m 8 weeks 5 days pregnant with my first child and this reminder of the strength within myself has given me the courage to contact our local Birth Rhythms center where I can meet doula, take classes, and find the answers that will give me the confidence to have a natural home birth like I dream of. Thank you Gloria.

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