Today is my youngest son’s 21st birthday!  I am dedicating today’s Thoughtful Thursday to him,  and gifting him (and you all) with a poem to mark this very special occasion: “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley.  I came to know this poem first through my older brother Paul, who at one point attended The (now closed) Henley School in Jamaica, NY, where memorization of the poem was required. This was Nelson Mandela’s favorite poem; he regularly recited it during his many years of imprisonment.  National Urban League President Marc Morial also claims it as his favorite poem, as he noted in his recent turn as a guest on Ground Control Parenting with Carol Sutton Lewis.

This is a poem about courage, about strength, about independence, about perseverance.  Qualities my son has admirably developed to date which I hope he will continue to develop now that he has officially entered adulthood!

Share this poem with your children and enjoy.


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.

William Ernest Henley