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My First Poet Hero


Blog Posted:1/14/2013 9:23:00 AM

Shortly after Magee's first combat action on November 8, 1941, Magee sent his family another poem ("... another trifle which may interest you."). Or rather, the beginnings of a poem, never quite finished. Although it is not certain, this poem is quite possibly the last that Magee wrote. Per ardua ad astra is the motto of the Royal Air Force and other Commonwealth air forces such as the RAAFRNZAF, and theRCAF. It dates from 1912 and was used by the newly-formed Royal Flying Corps, and is translated as "Through adversity to the stars".

"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,
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 in 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?"

As a young man of 10 my first poet hero was John Gillespie Magee Jr. and the first poem I committed to memory was his poem High Flight which was the most famous poem ever written about flying.  He wrote the poem about three months before he died in 1941 at the age of 19. As you can see, the preceding poem was also written by John. I invite you to search for more of his work and likewise lament the loss of such a great life and talent that we could have shared for many years. After all, if he had lived he would now be 91.
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  1. Date: 1/14/2013 2:45:00 PM
    How 'bout this one "Sonnet to Rupert Brooke" "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."

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  1. Date: 1/14/2013 2:18:00 PM
    thanks for showing this one, Craig. Not familiar with it before, but I quite liked it.

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  1. Date: 1/14/2013 11:36:00 AM
    Beautiful Craig, will check out his other poetry thanks for sharing this, xxx

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  1. Date: 1/14/2013 10:38:00 AM
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful poem with us, Craig. There are 3 poems listed on the following site by this fine poet: http://www.poemhunter.com/john-gillespie-magee/

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  1. Date: 1/14/2013 10:11:00 AM
    This is so wonderfully, sensitively written. What a heartfelt dedication !! Thank you for sharing this...I will indeed look up this author. A talented young man he was...so sad that he didn't live to share more words.

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