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High Flight


John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

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 untrespassed sanctity of space

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

This reverred aviation poem was written by John Gillespie Magee, Jr., an American who joined the RAF shortly before the Battle of Britain to fight the Germans in World War II . During his training he penned the poem "High Flight" on the back of an envelope and mailed it to his mother. Shortly thereafter, he was killed in a mid-air collision during a training flight in a Spitfire. Though he was killed at the young age of 19, John Gillespie Magee, Jr.'s poem will live on in the hearts of pilots and all those who love flying for many years to come.


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