Invictus by William Ernest Henley is a powerful poem portraying the fate of human beings. The author clearly is writing about his own struggles for his pain is obvious in the poem. Henley suffered from terrible health problems and also had a child who passed during his own lifetime. Henley encountered many obstacles in his life, some which may have caused others to be defeated. But as the poem Invictus states, Henley had an “unconquerable soul.” The word Invictus is Latin for unconquered.
Henley wrote the poem so that every other line rhymed. The rhythm of the poem is obvious as the reader is astonished by the powerful lines and message of Invictus. While some aspects of the poem may be understood denotatively, Henley primarily intended for the reader to take the poem connotatively, such as the first line of the poem “out of the night that covers me.”
The first stanza mainly introduces Henley emotionally. The meaning of “night” in the first line is the representation of Henley’s emotional state and depressing obstacles he overcame individually. In the third line, he “thanks whatever gods may be” for his “unconquerable soul.” The fact that he does not address God formally, but rather “gods,” shows that he is not sure what is out there responsible for his unconquerable soul, but for it he is thankful. Even after everything he as an individual had encountered, he had not given up.
The next two stanzas reflect how Henley dealt with the pain. He had “not winced nor cried aloud” meaning publicly he had not dealt with his pain and suffering. The imagery of his head “bloody, but unbowed” is so vivid and clear. His agony and pain is obvious to an observer, represented by the bloody head, yet he had not given up and had no intentions of giving up on life, represented by his unbowed head. This internal conflict occurred for many years, yet due to his unconquerable soul he is unafraid, as stated in the eleventh and twelfth lines.