William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as a 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 straight 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 1875
William Ernest Henley was born at Gloucester, on August 23, 1849, and died on June 11, 1903. During his life Henley did not publish a great deal of poetry. The majority of his literary work was in journalism, working for a number of different publications.
When Henley was 12 he became afflicted by a crippling tuberculous disease that threatened his life. It was necessary to amputate one foot due to the progression of the disease. He would have lost the other foot had it not been for the care of Professor Joseph Lister, beginning in 1873. In an infirmary in Edinburgh, Lister was able to provide Henley's leg with enough attention to avoid the need for amputation. His ever-present illness did not make him into a bitter or depressed individual; the opposite of this is what took place, both in his writing and his personality.
In 1901 Henley moved to Woking, where he died in 1903. He left behind a wife, Anna Boyle, who died in 1904. The only child that Henley ever had was a daughter who died at the age of five in 1894.
[This message has been edited by Poet deVine (edited 09-25-2000).]