Donald V. Watkins
“Invictus”: My Favorite Poem
Updated: Sep 6, 2022
By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and Published on March 12, 2021
While pledging Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity at Southern Illinois University for 18 weeks during the 1967-68 academic year, I was required to memorize William Ernest Henley’s enduring poem, “Invictus”. This poem, more than others, explains my “unconquerable soul”.
Here is “Invictus”:
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.
I dedicate this poem to my dear friend, the late Nathan A. Chapman, Jr. (September 3, 1957-January 17, 2020). Nate was an Alpha man, as well. He was always the “master of his fate” and the “captain of his soul”. Nate conquered everything in his life except death. Now, Nate is in God’s Mansion in Heaven. Rest in peace, my friend!
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