The Soul’s Captain

The media has quoted, repeatedly, from “Invictus” by William E. Henley because of Timothy McVeigh’s choice to use it as his final mission statement. If you are not familiar with it, you might be interested to read a response to Henley’s poem written by a poet, Orson F. Whitney.

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 punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

“The Soul’s Captain”
by Orson F. Whitney*

Art thou in truth? Then what of Him
Who bought thee with His blood?
Who plunged into devouring seas
And snatched thee from the flood,

Who bore for all our fallen race
What none but Him could bear–
That God who died that man might live
And endless glory share.

Of what avail thy vaunted strength
Apart from His vast might?
Pray that His light may pierce the gloom
That thou mayest see aright.

Men are as bubbles on the wave,
As leaves upon the tree,
Thou, captain of thy soul! Forsooth,
Who gave that place to thee?

Free will is thine- free agency,
To wield for right or wrong;
But thou must answer unto Him
To whom all souls belong.

Bend to the dust that “head unbowed,”
Small part of life’s great whole,
And see in Him and Him alone,
The captain of thy soul.

– – – –

* Orson F. Whitney was an early leader (1835) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


(This reminder of Apostle Orson F. Whitney’s words were contributed to Meridian by Romney Biddulph of Mendham, New Jersey who gives credit to Gil Gould of Brookside, New Jersey)

2001 Meridian Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.