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High Flight
John Gillespie Magee, Jr.


Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward Iíve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, ó and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of ó wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hovíring there,
Iíve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
Iíve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew ó
And, while with silent, lifting mind Iíve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

This poem is in the public domain.

John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (1922 - 1941) was born in Shanghai, China, to an English mother and an American father. At the age of eighteen, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force, trained as a pilot, and was sent to England to fly a Supermarine Spitfire with the 412 Fighter Squadron. After a high altitude test flight one day, John wrote his parents a letter and enclosed a poem--this one--that test flight inspired. He was killed a few months later, when his plane collided with that of another British military pilot.

Post New Comment:
I hope one day I'll Put out my hand, and touched the face of God
Posted 09/14/2020 04:36 AM
This is the first poem I learned in school, when I was 7 years old. I memorised it then and have remembered it for nearly 64 years. I have taken a symbolic picture of birds in flight and named my shot after this touching poem and the special feelings it inspires in me daily. As I approach the end of my life here, this poem and my image continue to inspire me as to how wonderful nature is and how lucky I have been to be part of it.
Posted 08/26/2020 04:58 AM
Having touched the face of God these words were undoubtedly inspired by Him.. God Bless you John
Posted 08/15/2020 09:45 PM
I have translated into french this beautiful poem which is untranslatable - but which tells so much to anyone however - espacially to a modest private french pilot
Posted 05/13/2020 11:13 AM
tears brought to my eyes as I read. I imagine me flying high like an eagle.
Posted 02/25/2020 01:23 PM
nadia ibrashi:
So beautiful. What a tragic end for such a talented poet.
Posted 08/08/2011 10:14 AM
This is magnificent! It captures a real sense of what it is to fly. There are so many phrases I recall from earlier readings. So seamless and powerful!
Posted 08/08/2011 08:42 AM

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