Poem Of The Day (7)


PURE DEFIANCE! James Graham of Montrose


A work of pure defiance. Or, of exultation in one’s own unflinching spirit. No cuckoos here, no hearts and flowers, no wheat fields in springtime nor dancing dafodils—this is life in the raw, this is a ship going down with colours nailed to the mast and the last functional gun still firing.


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 good ol’ Willie HWilliam Ernest Henley


Hell, don’t look to me to make it easy. Henley did that—you either get it or you don’t. A clue if you need one—time wasted in analysis would be better spent re-reading.


explain the message I wouldn’t. I would offer instead this quote from one James Graham—

“He either fears his fate too much,
     Or his deserts are small,
That dare not put it to the touch
     To win or lose it all”

                                 —Marquess of Montrose


—who wrote it in the 1600s. From memory he was ensconced in a cell at the time, awaiting his date with fate. He’d put it to the touch and lost, which probably explains the philosophical attitude (which I can but respect and admire).






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