5 December 2014
On the one year anniversary of the death of Nelson Mandela and a morning after participating in a demonstration (I am grateful to have had the opportunity and appreciate that I was not arrested, even though the organizers were) in Indianapolis for respect for young Black males–Black Lives Matter–I share a poem that was read at the protest–“Harlem,” by Langston Hughes and “Invictus,” by William Henley. The latter is a poem that inspired Nelson Mandela, and its words, “Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed” seem appropriate today and every day. I am captain of my soul, I am master of mine own destiny–as are you.
BY LANGSTON HUGHES
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
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.