Welcome to our succinct guide to William Henley's poem Invictus - an ode to triumphing adversity. Apart from the verse in its entirety, we've also answered many wide ranging questions relating to Invictus, that people Google for.

From the meaning of Invictus, its central theme, sentence explanations, to where you can acquire a stunning Invictus wall artwork (paper, canvas, and ready to hang - stretcher framed).

We hope you find it useful.



1 Invictus meaning - what does the word signify?
2 Invictus poem - what is the poem about? 
3 William Ernest Henley - who was he?
4 I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul - what does this mean?
5 Nelson Mandela & Invictus - was it his favourite poem?
6 Invictus movie - what is it about?
7 Invictus poem as a song - has anyone recorded a great rendition?
8 Invictus poem framed - where can I order one?
9 Invictus poem poster - where can I buy a high quality museum grade print?

View one of the finest collections of typographic INVICTUS posters and framed designs here.


Image: Close up of a typographic Invictus poster. See the full design here 


1 INVICTUS MEANING - what does the word signify?

Invictus, is Latin for 'unconquerable' or 'undefeated'. It was written in 1875 by British writer William Ernest Henley.


INVICTUS POEM - what is the poem about? 

In 'Invictus,' resilience and inner strength take center stage. Henley's depiction of a spirit unyielding in the face of life's trials and tribulations strikes a chord with readers. He uses powerful imagery to effectively drive home the point.

The poem emanates from Henley's personal journey of recuperation following the amputation of his left leg in an Edinburgh hospital during an era when hospital stays were perilous, often tantamount to a death sentence.

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. 


William Ernest Henley (23 August 1849 – 11 July 1903) left an indelible mark on English literature as a poet, writer, critic, and editor. While his literary legacy encompasses several volumes of poetry, Henley is primarily celebrated for his timeless 1875 poem, "Invictus." A prominent figure within London's literary circles, the one-legged Henley is often speculated to have influenced Robert Louis Stevenson's creation of the iconic Long John Silver in "Treasure Island" (1883), while his daughter Margaret Henley served as the muse for J. M. Barrie's choice of the name Wendy, bestowed upon the beloved heroine of "Peter Pan."

4 I AM THE MASTER OF MY FATE, I AM THE CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL - what does this sentence mean?
It eloquently conveys that it is up to me to determine what my future will hold. I must take full responsibility for my actions, by steering my own 'ship' towards my ultimate destination.


Image: Invictus illustration and lettering poster featuring the iconic last lines of the poem 'I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul'. Enjoy it in more detail here


5 NELSON MANDELA & INVICTUS - was it his favourite poem?
The poem and  the lines "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" were a source of strength during Nelson Mandela's 27 years in Robben Island prison.
Image: Close up of Invictus Tally Marks poster inspired by Nelson Mandela's time in prison. See the entire poster here

INVICTUS MOVIE - what is it about?
Clint Eastwood's film, "INVICTUS," narrates the poignant and true tale of how President Nelson Mandela (portrayed by Morgan Freeman) collaborates with Francois Pienaar (played by Matt Damon), the captain of South Africa's rugby team. Together, they utilise the power of sport to foster unity and surmount economic and racial divisions lingering from apartheid. 

Mandela entrusts Pienaar with the task of guiding his team to greatness, merging their personal aspirations—Mandela's vision to unify the nation and Pienaar's ambition to lead the team to World Cup victory—under the banner of "One team, one country." Mandela draws inspiration from a poem that sustained him during his imprisonment, later revealed to be William Ernest Henley's "Invictus."

7 INVICTUS POEM AS A SONG - has anyone done a great rendition?
Yes there have been several versions over the years, including Nelson Mandela's favourite poem set to music by opera star Pumeza Matshikiza. But this soul stirring rendition by Elika Mahoney here, remains our favourite.


 Image: Close up of I am the master of my fate by master calligrapher Jackson Alves. See the full design here



INVICTUS POEM FRAMED - where can I order one?
You can order a stretcher framed Invictus canvas wall artwork through our store.


Image: 'I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul' framed artwork.

(Please note we do not offer this ornate frame)


INVICTUS POEM POSTER - where can I buy a high quality museum grade print?
You can order one on paper, canvas, or ready to hang -  stretcher framed at our store here.