Topics: Poetry, Translation, Alexander Pope Pages: 3 (1019 words) Published: August 28, 2013

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Interpretation of Invictus by William Ernest Henley


No one can ever sufficiently justify William Ernest Henry’s indescribably touching and heartbreaking poem “Invictus”. It would be prudent to remark how his sorrows in life paved a path for him to think beyond and maneuvered him to become a celebrated poet. In spite of his affliction from an early age he did not succumb to his disease. Henley’s Invictus is a gamut of infinite ideas shouting out about his placid disposition. Nevertheless, the readers have often encountered mixture of interpretations. Theme of the poem

The poem is a reflection of Henley’s miserable life infected with crippling disease. The mood of the poem is serious and welcomes the reader to interpret according to their understanding. “Finds, and shall find, me unafraid, Pit from pole to pole” are two examples of Alliteration where the poet has deliberately repeated the initial letters in the adjacent words. Poets use this technique to emphasize certain concepts and phrases. The last two lines of the poem are a clear example of Epigram that connotes either a larger than life concept or a sardonic statement. The poem is everything but a portrayal of Dysphemism. Authors and poets usually make a good use of dysphemism when they have to harshly criticize any concept. Interpretation of the Poem

The title of the poem implies the poet’s commitment to confront adversity with utter might and determination. Invictus is a Latin word denoting the “unconquerable”. In the very first stanza, the poet endeavors to quote all the hardships and trouble in life metaphorically. Now it is up to the reader’s understanding to assign pessimism and misery to the challenging hardships. In the very next line the poet attempts to confront the notion of abyss and darkness. By the proverbial phrase “unconquerable soul” in the third and fourth line, Henley takes us back to the title of the poem,...

Bibliography: Henley, William. Poems by William Ernest Henley. 2nd Edition. London: Penguin Publisher, 2005. Print
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