February 1, 2010

The Conqueror of My Soul

William Henley’s famous poem Invictus provides a picture of the groundless defiance of humanism in the face of a cold, unrelenting, and hopeless Universe:

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.

In brilliant contrast, Dorothea Day’s Conquered presents the assured dependence of the conquered Christian in the arms of the loving, merciful, and sovereign Lord of the Universe:

Out of the light that dazzles me,
Bright as the sun from pole to pole,
I thank the God I know to be
For Christ the conqueror of my soul.

Since His the sway of circumstance
I would not wince nor cry aloud.
Under the rule which men call chance
My head with joy is humbly bowed.

Beyond this place of sin and tears—
That life with Him! and His the aid,
That spite the menace of the years,
Keeps, and shall keep, me unafraid.

I shall not fear, though straight the gate;
He cleared from punishments the scroll.
Christ is the Master of my fate;
Christ is the Captain of my soul.

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