Native Sun News Today Editorial: Poetry is medicine for the soul

Out of the night that covers me

Poetry can be beautiful and cathartic
By Native Sun News Today Editorial Board

When Nelson Mandela was in prison for more than 20 years there was on poem that he read nearly every day until he had committed it to memory and then he would say the poem to himself when he felt that he just could not go on for another day.

The poem was by a poet name William Ernest Henley (1894 – 1903) and it was called “Invictus.”:
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 bludgeoning 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 straight the gate, Or how filled with punishment the scroll, For I am the Captain of my fate, I am the Master of my soul.

Mandela said that this poem gave him hope and inspiration and helped him survive those dark days in prison where he thought there was not hope. There is more to the poem so we encourage anyone who really likes it to get a copy of it and like Mandela, carry it with them and take it out and read it when life become unbearable.

Tim Giago first read the poem when he was a young boy at the Holy Rosary Indian Mission Boarding School at Pine Ridge and like Mandela, he memorized the poem and when things really got tough at the mission school he recited the poem to himself and he said it gave him the hope and inspiration to carry on and when he was 17 years old and in the Korean War in 1952 the poem went with him and on those freezing nights in Korea he would recite the poem to himself.

Poetry is a beautiful thing and let us hope and pray that we never lose sight of it in these days of modern technology. To read it can be beautiful, but to write it can be cathartic. Giago said when he wrote the poems for his book Children Left Behind it gave him the peace of mind that had been taken from him at the boarding school. To him writing the poems turned out to be medicine for his soul.

For more news and opinion, visit the Native Sun News Today website: Poetry can be beautiful and cathartic

(Contact the Native Sun News Today Editorial Board at editor@nsweekly.com)

Copyright permission Native Sun News