June 9, 2008

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

A Spitfire like the one flown by John Magee

He was flying Spitfire VZ-H, serial number AD-291 on Dec. 11, 1941.

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 nor ever 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.
— JOHN G. MAGEE, JR., “High Flight,” September 3, 1941.

Source:'s Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations 603.John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (1922–41)
See also:
> It is the birthday of John Gillespie Magee, Jr. He was born in 1922 in Shanghai, China, of missionary parents—an American father and an English mother—and spoke Chinese before English. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in late 1940. In Britain he flew in a Spitfire squadron and was killed on a routine training mission on December 11, 1941. He wrote the above sonnet and sent it to his parents on a back of a letter.

Posted by niganit at June 9, 2008 8:27 AM
More like this: Famous People | Inspirational | Poetry


You are invited to post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)