John Gillespie Magee, Jr. wrote High Flight just before his death in a mid-air collision over Lincolnshire during World War II, serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was nineteen.
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
Off sunsplit 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 nor even eagle flew;
And while, with silent lifting wind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out me hand and touched the face of God.
A Favourite Poem of Margaret Buchanan