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Invictus by William Ernest Henley

            We discover our world through our senses, however when authors and poets are distinctively visual in their writing, we gain access to their own sensory and personal experiences. Additionally, visual messages have been a paramount form of communication that allows us to engage in the trials and tribulations, and equally triumphs, of lives we would of otherwise not encountered. "Invictus" a poem by William Ernest Henley, is a distinctly visual poem that invokes the stoic ideals of self-mastery and resilience, allowing the responder to visually experience not only Henley's ordeal - but also to bear witness to his conviction. Written in 1875, in the year that Henley was to undergo leg amputation due to tuberculosis, "Invictus" is latin for 'unconquered' with its titular statement setting the underlying message of conviction throughout the poem. Henley crafts a distinctive image to the responder by projecting his emotions visually through words. The 1st stanza introduces the responder to a "night that covers" the persona, one which is of almost absolute darkness as it is "black as a pit" and covers the personas world from "pole to pole" in reference to the geographic North and South poles. These mental projections of his current state allow the responder to experience the immediacy of his suffering by composing a visual world out of his emotions and thoughts. Importantly, the visual world of anguish created by Henley is dissolved by the poets self-mastery and resilience. Written in a theocratic age, Henley utilizes the apostrophe "whatever gods may may be" to address his doubt in religious ideology in a time that struggled to find the balance between science and religion. Henley makes this point to illustrates his own experience with the responder, that it is his titular "unconquerable soul" as written in the 4th stanza that allows for self-mastery over illness, death and even gods.

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