Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Invictus, A Haiku Set

for Nelson Mandela

Madiba's gone ...
a young Mandela raised
his right fist

embers glowing ...
Mandela's stories color
 children's faces

NeverEnding Story, December 6 2013


1 Nelson Mandela met with the captain of the Springboks rugby team, François Pienaar,  implying that a Springboks victory in the 1995 World Cup would unite and inspire the nation. Mandela also shared with him, a British poem, titled "Invictus" ("undefeated" or "unconquered") that had inspired him during his 27 years in prison.

 Below is "Invictus, " a short Victorian poem by the English poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903):

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.

2 In South Africa, Nelson Mandela is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata ("Father"), and  viewed as "the father of the nation."