John Gillespie Magee

(9 June 1922 – 11 December 1941 / Shanghai)

Comments about John Gillespie Magee

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  • Rookie W. Glasser (3/12/2013 2:44:00 PM)

    Additionally, while an American pilot, he was not American-born. He was born in Shanghai, which again, is noted on this page elsewhere. High Flight, in its entirety, is as follows:

    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.

    An alternate version reads:
    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. 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, 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.

    Additionally, his epitaph is taken from High Flight:
    Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth –
    Put out my hand and touched the Face of God.

    6 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Rookie W. Glasser (3/12/2013 2:33:00 PM)

    The sonnet quotation is taken from the fuller version of high flight. The italics also identify his place and cause of death erroneously; he was not on a bombing raid over Germany, but instead in an accidental collision over Lincolnshire, England. The biography states so itself, but the quote is wrong in those two respects.

  • Rookie Margaret Lozonne (10/30/2008 12:46:00 PM)

    I am still waiting for your answer to my questions dated 10-28-08 on why there is a difference between the poem I have & the one you have on 'High Flight' by
    John Gillespie Magee.

    Thanks, Margaret

Per Ardua

(To those who gave their lives to England during the Battle of
Britain and left such a shining example to us who follow, these
lines are dedicated.)
'They that have climbed the white mists of the morning;
They that have soared, before the world's awake,
To herald up their foeman 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,

[Hata Bildir]