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William Ernest Henley

Birthdate: 23. August 1849
Date of death: 11. July 1903

William Ernest Henley was an English poet, critic and editor of the late-Victorian era in England who is spoken of as having as central a role in his time as Samuel Johnson had in the eighteenth century. He is remembered most often for his 1875 poem "Invictus", a piece which recurs in popular awareness . It is one of his hospital poems from early battles with tuberculosis and is said to have developed the artistic motif of poet as a patient, and to have anticipated modern poetry in form and subject matter.

As an editor of a series of literary magazines and journals—with right to choose contributors, and to offer his own essays, criticism, and poetic works—Henley, like Johnson, is said to have had significant influence on culture and literary perspectives in the late-Victorian period.

Works

Invictus
Invictus
William Ernest Henley

„A people, roaring ripe
With victory, rises, menaces, stands renewed,
Sheds its old piddling aims,
Approves its virtue, puts behind itself
The comfortable dream, and goes,
Armoured and militant,
New-pithed, new-souled, new-visioned, up the steeps
To those great altitudes, whereat the weak
Live not. But only the strong
Have leave to strive, and suffer, and achieve.“

—  William Ernest Henley

Epilogue
Hawthorn and Lavender (1901)
Context: A people, haggard with defeat,
Asks if there be a God; yet sets its teeth,
Faces calamity, and goes into the fire
Another than it was. And in wild hours
A people, roaring ripe
With victory, rises, menaces, stands renewed,
Sheds its old piddling aims,
Approves its virtue, puts behind itself
The comfortable dream, and goes,
Armoured and militant,
New-pithed, new-souled, new-visioned, up the steeps
To those great altitudes, whereat the weak
Live not. But only the strong
Have leave to strive, and suffer, and achieve.

„Love, which is lust, is the Lamp in the Tomb.
Love, which is lust, is the Call from the Gloom.
Love, which is lust, is the Main of Desire.
Love, which is lust, is the Centric Fire.“

—  William Ernest Henley

Source: Hawthorn and Lavender (1901), XXI
Context: Love, which is lust, is the Lamp in the Tomb.
Love, which is lust, is the Call from the Gloom.
Love, which is lust, is the Main of Desire.
Love, which is lust, is the Centric Fire.
So man and woman will keep their trust,
Till the very Springs of the Sea run dust.
Yea, each with the other will lose and win,
Till the very Sides of the Grave fall in.
For the strife of Love's the abysmal strife,
And the word of Love is the Word of Life.
And they that go with the Word unsaid,
Though they seem of the living, are damned and dead.

„Those incantations of the Spring
That made the heart a centre of miracles
Grow formal, and the wonder-working bours
Arise no more — no more.“

—  William Ernest Henley

"Prologue"
Poems (1898), Rhymes And Rhythms
Context: p>Those incantations of the Spring
That made the heart a centre of miracles
Grow formal, and the wonder-working bours
Arise no more — no more.Something is dead...
'Tis time to creep in close about the fire
And tell grey tales of what we were, and dream
Old dreams and faded, and as we may rejoice
In the young life that round us leaps and laughs,
A fountain in the sunshine, in the pride
Of God's best gift that to us twain returns,
Dear Heart, no more — no more.</p

„For the strife of Love's the abysmal strife,
And the word of Love is the Word of Life.
And they that go with the Word unsaid,
Though they seem of the living, are damned and dead.“

—  William Ernest Henley

Source: Hawthorn and Lavender (1901), XXI
Context: Love, which is lust, is the Lamp in the Tomb.
Love, which is lust, is the Call from the Gloom.
Love, which is lust, is the Main of Desire.
Love, which is lust, is the Centric Fire.
So man and woman will keep their trust,
Till the very Springs of the Sea run dust.
Yea, each with the other will lose and win,
Till the very Sides of the Grave fall in.
For the strife of Love's the abysmal strife,
And the word of Love is the Word of Life.
And they that go with the Word unsaid,
Though they seem of the living, are damned and dead.

„Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.“

—  William Ernest Henley, book Invictus

Invictus (1875)
Context: In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

„Arise! no more a living lie,
And with me quicken and control
Some memory that shall magnify
The universal Soul.“

—  William Ernest Henley

Source: Poems (1898), Rhymes And Rhythms, XII
Context: p>Think on the shame of dreams for deeds,
The scandal of unnatural strife,
The slur upon immortal needs,
The treason done to life:Arise! no more a living lie,
And with me quicken and control
Some memory that shall magnify
The universal Soul.</p

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