The courageously defiant tone and message of Invictus were born of the extreme hardships that dogged the heels of Henley throughout his life. Despite the loss of his leg, Henley attained some moderate success as the editor of the London Observer and counted among his close friends the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson and Rudyard Kipling. He married and was blessed with a daughter named Margaret. unfortunately, fate caught up with him and he lost five-year-old Margaret to cerebral meningitis. Then in 1902, his dormant tuberculosis condition resurfaced, from which he died in 1903 at the age of 54.
Understanding the travails of the poem’s author makes it is a legacy all the more remarkable for being the inspiration for Nelson Mandela, during his 26-year incarceration as a political prisoner who championed the cause of human rights. The poem sustained the imprisoned man who, upon the lifting of apartheid in South Africa, became the nation’s President. For the purposes of this paper, the text of the poem was chosen because of the several contexts in which the poem found relevance in the lives of many people. Images connected with it are presented herein, with the text of the poem, in Appendix A.
The text shall be analyzed using the systemic-functional theory, and the multimodal approach. The textual analysis may only be meaningfully carried out within the context of the purpose for which the text is articulated. “Language is said to be functional because its organization quire fundamentally reveals the purposes for which any natural language came into being” (Christie, 1999). In the analysis of the chosen text, the poet’s purpose in composing the poem and choosing his words will be given focus.
Traditionally, language is described in terms of grammar and lexis viewed separately. On the other hand, the lexico-grammar approach regards language as “meaning conveyance of words working in .grammatical parameters”.