The Surprises You Find in Books

One of the reasons why people (or at least I) love reading is the serendipitous discoveries we encounter in books. I’m not just referring to quotes of profound wisdom, but random things like songs, poems, movies and people which you’ve never heard of, that are referenced in books.

As an innately curious person, I always make it a point to search up these references and get to know them. Sometimes these references end up taking a special place in my heart, and I find them worthy for sharing, so maybe this will be a weekly or biweekly thing.

This week, I have a William Ernest Henley poem, Invictus, which I discovered from the book Mafioso by Catherine Doyle (more about the book later).


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.

William Ernest Henley

I’ve never taken literature and I know nothing about the rhyme, rhythm and structures of poems, but I feel this poem conveys a lot of strength and fortitude, making it a new favourite.

I also found a website explaining the poem in depth and in context of Henley, which you may want to check out to understand it better (if you’re a poem noob like me):

Tell me how you find this poem in the comments below!

More about the book:

Mafioso is the third and final book in the Blood for Blood series (see first book: Vendetta). This is a YA Contemporary about a girl who falls in love with a boy from a mafia family… but things get a lot more complicated when she finds out a secret about her own family. It’s kind of a Romeo and Juliet meets The Godfather story.

Overall I think this series is a four-star read. Not the best, but worth a read, if you want something light and easy to read, yet with mildly dark themes, bits of both action and romance, and somewhat thought-provoking.

I think the books get better as the series progresses, so don’t be too put-off if you’re reading it and don’t like the first book!


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