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.

These are the lines to the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henly.  This poem is one which I remember often and fondly, because I have a long history with it, and it’s message has wormed it’s way into my writing – half on purpose, half by accident.

Invicuts is the favored poem of my high school creative writing teacher.  To those who were in that class with me, just the name of the poem generally inspires groans, facepalms, and headdesks.  It came up once a year at least.  We memorized it for extra credit.  We wrote reaction papers to it.  We wrote stories based on it.  No one in that class ever… ever forgot Invictus.  

Much later out of high school, and I can still write a good portion of it from memory. (In my mind, I’m pretty sure I have the middle two verses mixed up, so I’m going to cheat and go look)

I’m not sure what reminded me of it today, perhaps it was reading a particularly well done poem by a fellow wordpresser.  But as I thought about it I realized that many characters of the Athele series subscribe to this poem as a whole, Morgan in particular.

I’ve already explained to you the theme, the single word I chose for Morgan when pressed in this post.  Henly wasn’t making any two ways about what the poem was all about, to be sure.  Invictus translates to unconquerable.  Now don’t worry, I’m not going to change my mind about the single word on you. The single word was ‘endure’, but while the two are similar, one can endure while still being conquered.  I am, however, going to take a moment to outline why I consider Invictus to be a relevant poem to Sleight of Spirit.

First, I would like to direct you all to the “about the books” tab on the left.  If you’ve no interest in clicking, here is the important bit: “The main themes of The Athele Series are choice, love, and fate. “

Now I want you to re-read the last stanza of Invictus.  Here it is for you:

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.

Have any more self-affirming words been spoken?  It is the greatest rebuff of fate to say that one is the only one who can change their world and in the end that’s what Morgan is all about: staring fate in the eye and saying “I am not bound to you!”

The demon who possesses her soul often enjoys reminding Morgan that she belongs to it.  That she is its pet, essentially.  Morgan’s adoptive father insists that magic is lost to her and that she will stay his daughter forever.  Morgan, however, will hear none of it, and endures until the time that she sees a chance to change her fate.

That’s why we like her, that’s why I wrote her, and that’s why I hope that you all, the readers of Sleight of Spirit, will love her too.

What about you?  Are there any poems which embody your characters?

Also, we’re starting to look around for cover artists.  It’s so exciting, but kind of scary!  I mean, this is the person that we’re hoping will be with us throughout the entire Athele series, so it’s a little daunting to choose!  If you know of any amazing fantasy artists (or particular sites that specialize in fantasy art) that we should take a look at, let us know.

About Kaitlin

Kaitlin and Michael are co-authors of The Athele Series. They met in summer of 2006 and married in fall of 2009. They both teach English in South Korea. In his free time, Michael writes, plays video games, plays DnD, and idly contemplates world domination. In her free time, Kaitlin writes, runs, dances, and feeds her 'oo-shiny!' complex.

6 thoughts on “Invictus

  1. “Invictus” is one of my own favorite poems. Lovely to meet you and best of luck with your project. – A

  2. Ann Marquez says:

    Wow, teaching English in South Korea.
    Thank you so much for leaving a comment on my site. I enjoyed reading your post and Invictus. Although I’ve never read fantasy, I’m definitely curious about your series. Best of luck with the cover design. This is such an exciting time!

  3. Danny Nettleton says:

    Thank you for mentioning my poem! My English teacher was a devout Catholic and she used to make us read a lot of John Dunne. I still have a soft spot for metaphysical poetry. How will your novel be available? Or is it already? I enjoy fantasy books.

    • Kaitlin says:

      We’re hoping for both digital and traditional format. I want traditional because well, that’s been my dream like, forever, but let’s face it, digital is the face of the new age, so we’ll be doing our best to get it out in that format as fast as possible.

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