Monday, February 17, 2014

Henley again

Recently, spurred by the phrase “bloody but unbowed” in an email from my friend Johanna, I posted the poem, Invictus, by William Ernest Henley from which the quote came. A second phrase “I am captain of my soul” taken from the poem was used by the Economist on the occasion of the death of Nelson Mandela. I had not heard of Henley before, so I became curious about him, and particularly why he had written such a defiant poem. It appeared in 1875, and (to quote Wikipedia) “was written as a demonstration of his resilience following the amputation of his foot due to tubercular infection.”
He is well worthreading about. Amongst other things, he was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's character, Long John Silver, in Treasure Island. Altogether, a good bloke was William Ernest Henley.

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