This poem was written by John Gillespie Magee, Jr., a pilot officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force in the early 1940's. Magee was inspired to write this poem while on a test flight at 30,000 feet. He was killed in action in a dogfight over Europe on December 11, 1941, at the age of 19.
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 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.