Poetry is an amazing way to express ideas, motivate, and inspire people. Words have the power to move us and many poets have the magical ability to use words to move us to action. Poetry is emotional and helps us deal with issues in our daily lives. I am constantly searching for these types of poems.
A Poem That Moved Me
Going through medical school, there was one poem that really inspired me and motivated me to work hard: Invictus by William Ernest Henley. There is probably no poem more well-known than this one.
This poem was published in 1888 and was what made Henley so famous. Henley wrote the poem while recovering after a surgery to amputate his leg. His memories of an impoverished childhood and a cultural attitude of being tough through adversity were the main inspirations for the poem. The poem has inspired some greatest people to action: Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Aung San Suu Kyi, and many more.
The Personal Interpretation
The word invictus actually means “unconquerable” or “undefeated” in Latin. The overall message of the poem is to be courageous in the face of overwhelming adversity (death in his case), and to not let the harshness of life get you down. When you read the poem, it feels like a journey. The first verse describes how he’s in a tough situation but he will not be beaten. The second verse describes how even though he’s suffered so much due to his situation, he has kept his dignity and still not given up. The third verse seems to be consoling, in that he believes that our worldly existence makes us prisoners of chance, but there is something beyond this; and how he is fearless at this aspect of his life. The best part of the poem is the powerful ending two lines: ‘I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.’ Basically stating that how we perceive life, our successes, failures, and happiness depends completely on ourselves. Only we are responsible for our destiny.
The Evocation of Emotion
This poem is so extraordinary; it’s powerfulness lies in its ability to extend beyond simple words and imagery, into the realm of feelings. It makes me proud of my life, my journey thus far, and my ability to withstand all the hardships, rejections, and failures that I have been through. Every time I felt burnt out, depressed, or overwhelmed in medical school, this was the one thing that helped me get through it.
Poetry is known to be therapeutic and is actually used as a creative arts therapy method known as Biblio-therapy. Depression and anxiety are the most common mental illnesses that are treated with Biblio-therapy. These are common issues that affect many students. I always encourage my students to find poetry that inspires and resonates with them.
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