by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
One of the greatest poems ever written, this poem is also one of my personal favorites.
Although I can talk about it, I will put the comments of Michael Collins, Apollo 11
astronaut, on this site. He can say, much better than I, how this poem effects their devotees.
-- Michael B. Smith

"John Gillespie Magee, Jr., was an American who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force
and was killed at the age of nineteen, flying a Spitfire during the Battle of Britian. He was
born in China and lived in Washington, where his father was rector of St. John's Church
across from the White House. 'High Flight' is without a doubt the best known poem among
aviators and can be found, elegantly framed or carelessly tacked, on home and office walls
around most military airfields."
-- Michael Collins, from his book
Carrying the Fire
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 have 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.
Posted 12 JUN 2001 2011 MST
Reviewed 23 AUG 2011