William Henley 1849 to 1903 suffered from tubercular arthritis from childhood and spent most of his life in great pain. He had one of his feet amputated as a result of his illness.
He met Robert Louise Stevenson who became a close friend and described Henley as burley, boisterous and piratic. Stevenson used him as inspiration for his Long John Silver character in Treasure Island.
I love this poem so much; I leaned it by heart many years ago.
The title Invictus means 'unconquered'
Invictus William Henley
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 unbow'd.
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.