Friday, October 02, 2009

High Flight

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 windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941

3 comments:

Karen Brook Westhaver said...

Thanks for posting this, Walt. I have always loved this poem...it is deeply evocative and brings wonderful memories to me of so many flights, especially in a little plane (I dare say smaller than a "Buddy Holly" plane :-) and one brilliant amazing flight in a glider --- all of which mean there's not much between you and the sky. Wondrous. Thanks again, my friend!

Susie Hemingway said...

Tis' a beauty of a poem, so descriptive and much loved by the RAF here in the UK and I would imagine many pilots the world over, thank you Walt for reminding me of this once again. There is another of similar beauty from this time. I will try to find it.

Susie Hemingway said...

Yes this is the one - written on one of the windows at the beautiful War Memorial at Runnymead overlooking the Thames.

The Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede is an awe inspiring and thought provoking place to visit. It sits perched on a hillside overlooking Runnymede, the Thames, and the meadows where magna Carta was sealed in 1215 by King John. The land on which the memorial was built was donated by Sir Eugen and Lady Effie Millington-Drake in 1949. Being under the flight path for Heathrow airport means that fittingly there is the ever present sound of aircraft engines in the air which adds to the atmosphere during a visit.
The Memorial was built to commemorate by name those who lost their lives during the Second World War while serving with the Air Forces of the Commonwealth at bases in the UK or in North West Europe and who have no known grave.



A large arched window - the great north window - is engraved with the words from the 139th Psalm, I didnt realize it was a Psalm, sometimes called the Airman's Psalm.

If I climb up into Heaven, Thou art there;
If I go to Hell, Thou art there also.
If I take the wings of the morning
And remain in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there also shall Thy hand lead me;
And Thy right hand shall hold me.