My wife and I went to see Invictus last week. The movie was excellent. It tells the story of Nelson Mandela's use of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, which was hosted by South Africa, as a tool of reconciliation. In the movie, Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, gives the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley to the South African rugby team's captain (Matt Damon). He says the poem helped him during the 27 years he spent in prison. Although Mandela actually gave the captain an excerpt of Teddy Roosevelt's "The Man in the Arena" speech, I thought the poem used in the movie was powerful:
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.
And here is the excerpt from "Man in the Arena," which is also really powerful:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.