The poet W E Henley lived with a torture almost beyond bearing. From childhood he suffered from tubercular arthritis. Every day for the last years of his life he woke to more physical pain than the years before said J M Barrie.
Henley described his amputated foot as: a passion for itching, a mass of blisters.
Burly, boisterous and piratic W E Henley was R L Stevenson's inspiration for the character Long John Silver in Treasure Island. The poem that follows was written in 1875 after a two year stay in hospital. A man of true courage he remained unconquered.
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.
W E Henley (1849-1903)