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School Captain’s thought of the week

a picture of Jimmy Yuan

In this section of the newsletter, I am going to tell you avid readers about something that I have come across this week in lockdown that really interests me and has led to my contemplation regarding it.

This week, while watching the movie Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, I heard the poem ‘Invictus’ (from which the film evidently gets its title) by William Ernest Henley. During the scene in which the poem is referred to, the South African rugby team visit Robben Island prison the day before the 1995 World Cup final against South Africa. This is a very sombre and powerful scene as Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) is inspired by Nelson Mandela’s (Morgan Freeman) fortitude and his ‘Invictus’ mentality, as he remained unconquered and undefeated by his 30 years in prison. During the scene, Morgan Freeman’s voice is heard as he recites the poem ‘Invictus’. Above is my own reading of the poem, but I have to admit that I simply cannot do it justice in the same way Morgan Freeman was able to do so, so I encourage you all to search on YouTube for this particular scene in the film as well.

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.

This poem and moment in the film was particularly resonant as it highlighted how one of the most inspiring individuals of recent history was able to overcome the monumental hardships faced by himself. Hopefully, this is fitting with the current situation faced by the whole world today, and when all else seems like it is out of your control, remember and take comfort in how you are the master of your fate, you are the captain of your soul!

That’s all from me folks.

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