I don’t have a favourite poem – I have many! They inspire me; flood me with strength and hope in the darkest times; or perhaps arouse my passion and intellect. This poem falls into the first category (inspiration). It was written in 1941 by John Gillespie Magee, Jr – a World War II pilot, who died in a mid-air collision, a few months after writing it. He was 19 years old.
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 nor 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.