I'm looking for a poem supposedly written by a fighter pilot in WWII. His name was never known , so it remains ananymous, The ony words I can remember are...'.and I reached out touched the face of God", not much to go on. Thanks, Barbara
Not anonymous, Barbara:
By 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 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.
"I am enclosing a verse I wrote the other day.
It started at 30,000 feet, and was finished soon after I landed.
I thought it might interest you."
- John Gillespie Magee, Jr (1922-1941) in the letter to his parents which
contained "High Flight"
bio info :
[www.highflightproductions.com] with photos
High Flight was composed by Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr., an American serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was born in Shanghai, China in 1922, the son of missionary parents, Reverend and Mrs. John Gillespie Magee; his father was an American and his mother was originally a British citizen.
He came to the U.S. in 1939 and earned a scholarship to Yale, but in September 1940 he enlisted in the RCAF and was graduated as a pilot. He was sent to England for combat duty in July 1941.
In August or September 1941, Pilot Officer Magee composed High Flight and sent a copy to his parents. Several months later, on December 11, 1941 his Spitfire collided with another plane over England and Magee, only 19 years of age, crashed to his death.
His remains are buried in the churchyard cemetery at Scopwick, Lincolnshire.
from The Complete Works Of John Magee, the Pilot Poet
Sonnet to Rupert Brooke
by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
We laid him in a cool and shadowed grove
One evening in the dreamy scent of thyme
Where leaves were green, and whispered high above —
A grave as humble as it was sublime;
There, dreaming in the fading deeps of light —
The hands that thrilled to touch a woman's hair;
Brown eyes, that loved the Day, and looked on Night,
A soul that found at last its answered Prayer...
There daylight, as a dust, slips through the trees.
And drifting, gilds the fern around his grave —
Where even now, perhaps, the evening breeze
Steals shyly past the tomb of him who gave
New sight to blinded eyes; who sometimes wept —
A short time dearly loved; and after, — slept.
by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
They that have climbed the white mists of the morning,
They that have soared, before the world's awake,
To herald up their foemen to them, scorning
The thin dawn's rest their weary folk might take.
Some that have left other mouths to tell the story
Of high blue battle — quite young limbs that bled;
How they had thundered up the clouds to glory,
Or fallen to an English field stained red.
Because my faltering feet would fail I find them
Laughing beside me, steadying the hand
That seeks their deadly courage — yet behind them
The cold light dies n that once brilliant land...
Do these, who help the quickened pulse run slowly,
Whose stern remembered image cools the brow —
Till the far dawn of Victory know only
Night's darkness, and Valhalla's silence now?
Thank you, thank you, thank you'IanB. There is a terminal ilness in my family. This information is truly a blessing as we have searched for the poem for yearsWe were told many years ago no one knew who wrote it. It will be read at the funeral of the one who searched the hardest. God Bless ,Barbara.
Thank you Ilza. I did not know of this writer until I happened upon this website. Many, many thanks, Barbara