In the early 1970s, Nelson Mandela began keeping a vegetable garden on the prison grounds (His first plot was a rocky patch measuring just on yard wide; lacking tools, he had to dig with his hands.) In so doing, he not only found a way to supplement his fellow inmates' scanty diet with fresh vegetables--he cultivated a space apart, a pocket of calm amid harsh realities.
- Oprah Magazine (March 2009)
Invictus is a poem that inspired Mandela during the 27 years he spent in jail, imprisoned by the white South African government for fighting against apartheid.
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.
- William Ernest Henley