Invictus and the Tarot Triptych

In honor of William Ernest Henley’s poem Invictus, which started me down this road with the line “My head is bloody, but unbowed” and its perfect complement in the Waite-Smith Tarot’s 9 of Wands, I decided to render the entire poem in tarot cards. Although the text is structured in four-line stanzas, the three-card triptych made for a more compelling visual narrative. Once again, the Thoth Tarot’s vivid imagery and evocative titles fit the mood like a glove.
Out of the night that covers me,

The Moon

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

7 of Disks (“Failure”)

I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

The Star

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.

10 of Wands (“Oppression”)

Under the bludgeonings of chance

Wheel of Fortune

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

9 of Wands (“Strength”)

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

8 of Cups (“Indolence”)

Looms but the Horror of the shade,


And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

7 of Wands (“Valour”)

It matters not how strait the gate,

7 of Swords

How charged with punishments the scroll,

The Priestess

I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

The Chariot

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