The Battle of BritainPosted: October 26, 2015
I recently discovered what I think is a wonderful poem, “High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee, Jr and wanted to share it with you.
I came across this poem at the Battle of Britain Museum which is at Bentley Priory in Stanmore, Middlesex.
This terrific museum is well worth a visit. Not only for the amazing story it tells of the Battle of Britain but also because it is a stunning building in its own right, set within equally stunning grounds.
The poet John Gillespie Magee, Jr was a pilot serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force. His father was American and his mother was English.
In July 1941 he was sent to England for combat duty. That same year he composed this poem and sent a copy to his parents.
Then on December 11, 1941 his Spitfire collided with another plane over England.
Magee, who was only nineteen years old, crashed to his death.
Here is his poem:
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 even 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.
Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems