I noticed a poem pinned to the side of the bench.
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.
Sure, someone probably had just seen Invictus and been inspired by Morgan Freeman's dulcet tones to put up the eponymous poem. But it was certainly nice to read in the early morning autumn sunshine, while gearing up for a challenging week ahead.
Checking Wikipedia this evening, I was disappointed to read that the filmmakers made up the part in the movie about Nelson Mandela inspiring the Springboks to rugby glory with William Ernest Henley's verse. That was until I read what Mandela actually gave captain Francois Pienaar to use as literary rallying cry:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
-Theodore Roosevelt, 1910.
No wonder the Springboks won that World Cup.
And as much as I think Nelson Mandela is wonderful...
....I think this week is going to be a Teddy Roosevelt kind of week.