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Teen Poet--Disambiguation

Blog Posted:2/6/2013 3:10:00 PM
John Magee's poem was the first I had ever committed to memory while still in grammar school----it took me many years until 1989 when his family released the rest of his poems which, as you can imagine were not many, considering that they were written between the ages of 14 & 19---if you like I will print one a day--most are special--this was his most famous.

"High Flight" has endured as a favourite poem among aviators and, more recently, astronauts.

Today it serves as the official poem of the Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Air Force. It must be recited from memory by fourth class cadets (freshmen) at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) where it is also on display in the Cadet Field House.[9]

Portions of this poem appear on many headstones in Arlington National Cemetery.[10]

The poem itself also appears as part of display panels at the Canadian War MuseumOttawa, the National Air Force Museum of CanadaTrenton, Ontario, and is the subject of a permanent display at the National Museum of the United States Air ForceDayton, Ohio.[11]

Gen. Robert Lee Scott, Jr. included it in his book God is My Co-Pilot.

President Ronald Reagan addresses the nation after the Challenger disaster

Astronaut Michael Collins brought an index card with the poem typed on it on his Gemini 10 flight and included the complete poem in his autobiography Carrying The Fire.

Former NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz quoted the first line of the poem in his book Failure Is Not An Option, at the end of Chapter 16, which deals with the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Ronald Reagan quoted from "High Flight" in his speech (written by Peggy Noonan) that followed the Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986. He quoted: ..."slipped the surly bonds of Earth" to "touch the face of God." [12]

By 1950 there was a primary school reader in Ontario, Canada called High Flight which featured this poem. It had to be memorized by all students in Grade 8.

"High Flight"

Magee's posthumous fame rests mainly on his sonnet "High Flight", started on 18 August 1941, just a few months before his death, while he was based at No. 53 OTU. He had flown up to 33,000 feet in a Spitfire Mk I, his seventh flight in a Spitfire. As he orbited and climbed upward, he was struck with the inspiration of a poem — "To touch the face of God." He completed it later that day after landing.

Purportedly, the first person to read this poem later that same day was fellow Pilot Officer Michael Le Bas (later Air Vice-Marshal M H Le Bas, Air Officer Commanding No. 1 Group RAF[8]), with whom Magee had trained, in the officers' mess.

Magee enclosed the poem on the back of a letter to his parents. His father, then curate of Saint John's Episcopal Church in Washington, DC, reprinted it in church publications. The poem became more widely known through the efforts of Archibald McLeish, then Librarian of Congress, who included it in an exhibition of poems called "Faith and Freedom" at the Library of Congress in February 1942. The manuscript copy of the poem remains at the Library of Congress.

[edit]The poem

 "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, 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.

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  1. Date: 2/6/2013 6:41:00 PM
    Wow so young and so good! Light & Love

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  1. Date: 2/6/2013 5:45:00 PM
    wow tha'ts a poem and a half, no wonder you love it Craig, look forward to my daily dose of such a poet, Many thanks. Seren

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