Rememberance Day. 2020

Image from here

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. 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 un-trespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God

*********

This poem was found in many of the Kriegies’ YMCA issued diaries.    Written by John G. Magee on September 3, 1941.  Magee was born in Shanghai, China, of missionary parents-an American father and an English mother, and spoke Chinese before English. He was educated at Rugby school in England and at Avon Old Farms School in Connecticut.  He won a Scholarship to Yale, but instead joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in late 1940, trained in Canada, and was sent to Britain. He flew in a Spitfire squadron and was killed on a routine training mission on December 11, 1941. The sonnet above was sent to his parents written on the back of a letter which said, “I am enclosing a verse I wrote the other day. It started at 30,000 feet, and was finished soon after I landed.” He also wrote of his course ending soon and of his then going on operations, and added, “I think we are very lucky as we shall just be in time for the autumn blitzes (which are certain to come.

*********

This poem is almost a prayer. It is as soft and light as it contents and as deep and heavy as it contents, too. Full of references to cutting the bonds of earth, soaring high on emotions like laughter, delirium, joy mirth. Dancing flying swooping and flying higher than birds. Reaching the edge of space. Then that last line , a line that says it all for me . 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.

Such beauty written about such a deadly subject. Planes carrying bombs to flatten hillsides , villages, towns and cities……. Such a contradiction. Words of one who had not flown in war’s true theatre.  If you would like to learn more about John G Magee  read here

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ritu
    Nov 11, 2020 @ 05:33:51

    Lest we forget 🙏🏽 🏵

    Reply

  2. TanGental
    Nov 11, 2020 @ 07:26:00

    Ah my fav….

    Reply

  3. besonian
    Nov 11, 2020 @ 08:23:19

    But we do, Ladies, don’t we? We recall – or ‘remember’ – the sacrifices of those men. But we learn no lesson from it. The killing, the mayhem, the savagery goes on. I fear those men, their bereaved women and their un-fathered children are now weeping in their graves. Simply ‘remembering’ is empty without learning its lessons.

    Reply

    • willowdot21
      Nov 11, 2020 @ 07:36:21

      Yes indeed I do agree. We have learned nothing. War is ever present it may be swept under the carpet but it rages on. Those heroes in their graves must wonder why they bothered 💜

      Reply

  4. Trackback: Rememberance Day. 2020 — willowdot21 (Reblog) – The Midlode Mercury
  5. Betty Hayes Albright
    Nov 12, 2020 @ 01:38:02

    A powerful post for Remembrance Day (or Veterans Day as we call it over here). Thank you, Willow. ❤❤

    Reply

  6. Dale
    Nov 12, 2020 @ 03:19:29

    Such a beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing, Willow.

    Reply

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