by John Gillespie Magee

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 windswept height 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

John Gillespie Magee Jr. , A young American, flew with the Royal Canadian Air Force in England early in WWII, and was killed shortly after he composed this poem.