The letter is H for William Ernest Henley
Probably known best for his poem "Invictus"
which reflects his resilient struggle with the deadly disease,
tuberculosis of the bone.
"I am and Master of my fate
I am the Captain of my Soul"
Henley lost his left leg below the knee when he was in his teens.
In 1873 his other leg was affected by tuberculosis
but thanks to the innovative treatment of Dr. Joseph Lister it
was not amputated.
Henley stayed almost two years under Dr. Lister's care
and during this time he turned to writing poetry
about his hospital experiences.
These poems are probably the most interesting of all for the present day reader,
as they depart from the traditional themes and imagery
of Victoria poetry and have an affinity in form
with Gerald Manley Hopkins and T.S. Eliot.
'In spite of his illness Henley was a strong and sociable man with boundless energy,
excellent memory, enthusiasm and versatile mind.'
As much as I admire his poem Invictus
probably my favourite Henley poem is
"O Gather Me the Rose"
lovely words with a gentle admonishment
to gather joy as we find it and whenever we can.
O gather me the rose, the rose,
While yet in flower we find it
For summer smiles, but summer goes,
And winter waits behind it.
For with the dream foregone, foregone,
The deed foreborn forever,
The worm Regret will canker on,
And time will turn him never.
So were it well to love, my love,
And cheat of any laughter
The fate beneath us, and above,
The dark before and after.
The myrtle and the rose, the rose,
The sunshine and the swallow
The dream that comes, the wish that goes
The memories that follow!
William Ernest Henley fell from a railway carriage in 1902
and the accident caused the latent tuberculosis germ
to awaken. He died on he 11th of July, 1903, a the age of 53.
For more interesting Hs visit here at ABC Wednesday
with thanks for Roger, Denise and Leslie
and all Helpers