Dear Children and young people,
A Happy Weekend to you all! I hope you’re managing to complete your work in time to enjoy some time outside in this lovely weather. On the question of work – please remember to check the VLE and your emails every morning and please make sure you attend the Zoom lessons that have been arranged by your teachers.
I’m looking forward to visiting my favourite spot in the park a little later with Mr Moore and perhaps seeing the heron again. I’ll take my kite just in case the wind is kind and I can fly it again!
I’m afraid I haven’t been clocking up enough steps this week when compared to my efforts last weekend on the Highclare Hike. I seem to have got a little lazier this week and have blamed this on the weather not being so nice. However, I will make amends as I have factored in a few long walks and a cycle ride over this weekend – so watch this space. I have been very busy attending meetings via Zoom and keeping up to date with my admin (which seems never ending these days!). I’m also planning to do an assembly via Zoom next Friday 22nd May and will invite you all to attend. Also, when we return to ‘School’ after the half-term break, I am going to be looking at introducing year group assemblies so that we can all touch base and get together – again, more on this to follow. Obviously, I would like some of you to volunteer to take part in these assemblies – so if you’d like to sing a song, play an instrument, recite a poem or anything else – I’ll be delighted to hear from you.
I hope our U5 pupils are enjoying the A Level bridging sessions that have been arranged by 6th form teaching staff? I enjoyed popping into Mr Parkinson’s Zoom session about life in the 6th form with Maariya and Dan (our ex-head prefects) last week – it was also great to hear your voices! I also thoroughly enjoyed Mrs Cassell’s A Level Geography taster session – it made me wish I’d taken it up as a subject in the sixth form. However, I loved my A levels – especially English and Sociology. I found the study of Sociology in particular really opened my mind and made me think deeply about the society in which we live and, in particular, how biased and prejudiced we can sometimes be about other people’s lives and circumstances. Obviously, English will always be my first love as I am addicted to reading and love dissecting and analysing poetry and prose – which you will no doubt have noticed from my earlier memos.
With this in mind, I am going to be looking at another poem today which has meant a lot, not only to me, but to many famous people over the years. It was written by a relatively unknown poet by the name of William Ernest Henley (23 August 1849 – 11 July 1903) who was an influential English poet, critic and editor of the late Victorian era in England. When Henley was 16 years old, his left leg needed to be amputated because he contracted a disease called tuberculosis. Then the early 1870s, after seeking treatment for problems with his other leg at Margate, he was told that it would require a similar procedure. In August 1873 he chose instead to travel to Edinburgh to enlist the services of the distinguished English surgeon Joseph Lister, who was able to save Henley’s remaining leg after multiple surgical interventions on the foot. While recovering in the infirmary, he was moved to write this poem:
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.
The poem didn’t originally have a name at all and was simply entitled ‘Poem’ by its author. However, years later, Arthur Quiller-Couch (an editor of the day) gave it the name “Invictus” which in Latin translates to “Unconquered”.
The last lines of the poem were used by many famous people over the ages including:
C.S Lewis, the author of the Narnia books ‘I must be the captain of my soul and the master of my fate’
Oscar Wilde in 1897 ‘I was no longer the Captain of my soul’
Winston Churchill in a speech in the House of Commons in 1941 ‘We are still masters of our fate. We are still captains of our soul.’ In a reference to the terrible threat of WWII.
The Invictus Games – an international Paralympic-style multi-sport event created by Prince Harry in which wounded, injured or sick armed forces personnel take part in sport – features the poem in its promotions.
But most famously of all, Nelson Mandela is purported to have recited the poem to his fellow prisoners whilst incarcerated at Robben Island. It was his favourite poem and whenever he felt like lying down and giving up, he would recite it and it would give him the strength to go on.
Barrack Obama read the poem at Mandela’s memorial service in 2013.
Morgan Freeman, who played Mandela in the film called “Invictus” reads the poem beautifully – see a link below to him reading it: You’ll love it!
‘Okay!’ (I hear you cry) – ‘please, enough of poetry, Mrs Moore!’
However, I want you to remember that the words of this poem that so inspired these famous people throughout the years is just as relevant to you young people today. The message is clear, never give up and never allow the challenges and disappointments you will face in life to bring you down. Remember that you are strong and brave and can face anything that life throws at you. You are the masters of your fate and the captains of your souls! You are unconquerable! So….
Before I forget, I would like to pause and wish a very happy (if belated) birthday to the following pupils:
Hassan Akram in U3 who turned 12 yesterday
Davina Bodhani in L4 who turned 13 yesterday
Lina Bouden in L5 who turns 15 on Saturday, and
Ruby Newman in U4 who turns 14 on Sunday
I hope you all had or will have a wonderful day!!
There will be another wellbeing survey going out to you next week, so please complete it – as before, it will arrive as a task on the VLE. We want to make sure that you are coping well and feeling as supported as possible during these very difficult and worrying time – so please complete the survey as honestly as possible.
I think I’ve rambled on long enough, but I really hope you listen to Morgan Freeman reading the poem, “Invictus” – he has the most beautiful and mellifluous (look it up) voice. I loved him in The Shawshank Redemption too (one of mine and Mr Moore’s favourite films).
Finally, remember to be kind to yourselves and to others, help with those dishes and clean your rooms. And remember….
Love and best wishes to you all