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
The back-story of this poem is one of a man who believed in thinking and acting “outside the box” as it applied to medical science of the time. Henley had a leg amputated and instead of letting doctors amputate his second leg, researched and studied a new and emerging science and allowed Joseph Lister to treat him. Henley wrote INVICTUS not only to describe the pain he endured after his amputation but also to aid in his mental recovery.
I had to memorize this poem in the sixth grade and next remember hearing it during “hell week” in college. The words of the poem came back to me a decade or so later as I was preparing for a trial. I was surely not “unafraid” because of the issues in the case. The words of the poem helped me to focus. I walked into trial feeling like a trial lawyer because of Henley’s words; I walked out of that trial as a trial lawyer because of the words I used.
We as Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers are a justifiably egotistic lot. We go into courtrooms every day upholding the sacrifices, principals, and ideals of all those who fought, and fight, for all of our fundamental principals of law. It matters not the “horrors” of the political agendas of the different prosecuting offices; our job description never changes, and we are the “captains” of the barriers to injustice. What we do every day affects the quality of everyone’s life.
Good verdicts to you all.