” slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God” Leaving the earth should be done against the force of gravity.
John Gillespie Magee’s poem celebrates the act of flight as a means of transcending or ‘slipp[ing] the surly bonds of Earth’, rather than having to confine himself, in Hulme’s phrase, to being ‘mixed up with earth’.
Written months before his death on December 11, 1941, Royal Canadian Air Force Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee Jr.’s poem, “High Flight,” has had a far wider reach than its 19-year-old writer probably could have imagined.
During one of these sojourns into the sky, on August 18, 1941 , he wrote “High Flight,” destined to become the most famous aviation poem in the world.
John Gillespie Magee (October 10, 1884 – September 11, 1953) was an American Episcopal priest, best known for his work in Nanking as a missionary, and for the films and pictures he shot during the Nanking Massacre. He is also credited with saving thousands of lives throughout the event.
“where never lark, or even eagle, flew;” TONE : AWE– “touched the face of God.” FUN FACT: EAGLE– Many eagle species lay two eggs, but the larger chick frequently kills and eats its younger sibling once it has hatched. Adults do not intervene. My eager craft through footless halls of air.
1 : menacing or threatening in appearance surly weather. 2 obsolete : arrogant, imperious. 3 : irritably sullen and churlish in mood or manner : crabbed.
(9 June 1922 – 11 December 1941) was a World War II Anglo-American Royal Canadian Air Force fighter pilot and poet, who wrote the poem High Flight. He was killed in an accidental mid-air collision over England in 1941.