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High Flight
by
John Gillespie Magee, Jr.


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Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.


This poem is in the public domain.

 

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John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (1922 - 1941) was born in Shanghai, China, to an English mother and an American father. At the age of eighteen, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force, trained as a pilot, and was sent to England to fly a Supermarine Spitfire with the 412 Fighter Squadron. After a high altitude test flight one day, John wrote his parents a letter and enclosed a poem--this one--that test flight inspired. He was killed a few months later, when his plane collided with that of another British military pilot.


Post New Comment:
Plaw15@verizon.net:
How do I purchase and how much
Posted 03/10/2016 01:29 PM
nadia ibrashi:
So beautiful. What a tragic end for such a talented poet.
Posted 08/08/2011 10:14 AM
dotief@comcast.net:
This is magnificent! It captures a real sense of what it is to fly. There are so many phrases I recall from earlier readings. So seamless and powerful!
Posted 08/08/2011 08:42 AM


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