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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Reaching Into Space

On this 50th anniversary day of the first Moon Landing, it seemed appropriate to share John Mageee Jr.’s beautiful “High Flight" for Saturday's Poem.

Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr., a China-born American was serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Battle of Britain when he wrote this poem in 1941.  The son of missionary parents, Magee studied at Yale, and in September 1940 enlisted in the RCAF where he was graduated as a pilot.  He composed “High Flight” a couple months before his death on December 11, 1941 when his Spitfire collided with another plane over England.  
    Magee was just 19 when he died.   He is buried in England.

            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.
Hovering 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.

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