One of my favorite poems is “Invictus”-by William Ernest 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 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 turn to it my lowest. It’s such a defiant work of literature. You may say it is too short but I find it to have such a deep impact. It encapsulates all of the human spirit I seek out in the world. No matter what the odds I will always go on. It is something I strive to be.
Another beautifull work by Rabindra Nath Tagore, titled Where the Mind is Without Fear quite beautiful isn’t it? Well the travesty of this poem is that instead of immersing myself in the words of the Author, i found it to be a tedious affair, i was in the 6th grade I think when we came across this at school, our teacher asked us to write a short excerpt about the poem, what we ascertained from it if you will. Like all teenagers i was obsessed with puberty you know hairs in wrong places and recurring dreams you wonder if everyone else had too. I only understood what i was supposed to and diligently i spit out what was told to me.
Here is the poem
Where The Mind Is Without Fear
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
As I reached maturity or at least as my obsession waned I came across those words once more I could now fully appreciate those thoughts and I felt enlightened. It was a dream wasn’t it? Where the Mind is without fear, where the World is about fear, It was clearly a remark upon the British Rule in India, deprived of learning it was his thoughts on what “freedom” was. We discriminate against one another, We rationalize unspeakable atrocities against one another yet he believed that it wasn’t in human nature to be this way, it was in our lack of understanding, lack of knowledge. Human beings are creatures of habit( “Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit”), we repeat the same things again and again. Such a lovely thought =>”The truth will set you free”.
My Final pick would be “Abou Ben Adhem” -BY LEIGH HUNT
Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
“What writest thou?”—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said, “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.
I came across this in a time when I started questioning God, I haven’t stopped still. Religion has always been a sore topic for me. I studied in a Jesuit school yet i must tell you i never felt forced to comply with God that’s why I feel such an awe for St.Xavier’s I was never forced to do anything I was merely given a moral compass and they believed that the Lord would direct me, like a shepherd guiding his flock never truly understood what a Christian thing that was.
Then there were my teachers my favorite of all was Father Mark, he had such a dark view on things, in Sex Ed he forced us to ask hard questions such as “Why do we reproduce” when a classmate answered to the question “To continue the human race”. he replied ” Yes but why?. Why do we bother?”, to which I murmured “To be remembered”. to which he exclaimed “Exactly! Such a beautiful statement. To be REMEMBERED”. I wasn’t the most academically accomplished student but in his class I flourished, death and life, the eternal struggle of existence. My dark answers were not what you would call the right answers but more importantly was the more intriguing answer. He liked that about me, and he was a bit partial to me because of this I think.”Never be afraid to think” it was his message I think. Something i’ve been accused of doing too much sometimes, but I think therefore I am.