High Flight

 

From the Internet:


"John Gillespie Magee, Jr., was one of the many Americans who enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Within a year, he was sent to England and assigned to the No. 412 Fighter Squadron, RCAF, where he flew the Supermarine Spitfire. On September 3, 1941, he flew a high-altitude test flight in a new model of the Spitfire V. As he climbed upward through 33,000 feet, he experienced great exhilaration which inspired his immortal line, “to touch the face of God.” He later expanded it into a poem.
   Three months later, he was killed in a midair collision. He was only 19 years old. Although young John Magee was lost, he had sent a copy of his poem to his father, who was then rector of a Washington, DC, church. His father printed it in church publications. This led to its inclusion in an exhibition of poems called Faith and Freedom at the Library of Congress in February 1942.
   High Flight has since become the most famous aviation poem ever written. It has inspired countless aviators and astronauts. It is the subject of a special exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. U.S. Air Force Academy cadets are required to memorize it.
   The poster magnificently depicts his Spitfire climbing toward the peak of its exciting flight and cites the full text of his ageless and classic poem. A caption, located in the lower left corner, tells the story behind it."


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 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.

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John Gillespie Magee, Jr.


I was thinking about the polarization of deep belief systems in usa this decade because I have not felt this intenseness of emotional expressions since the early to mid sixties. Russia ran a program on us and there are similarities between the psycghological impact of that assault and the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan or nine eleven or the Napalm drops by usa on Viet Nam. Late night tv before signing off (yes tv use to have limited broadcast time in the 50's) this poem was recited as a jet flew in the clouds. It was a time, I guess not all of PostPoem writers remember, when you could hear jets boom breaking the sound barrier. 

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It was flight. It was an innovation in space aerodynamics that united us and we all looked up. I'm presently watching FIRST MAN about Neil Armstrong, first moon walker, the "one giant leap for mankind" spacer, and I remembered the poem "High Flight". Back then, I did not think of anything but speed and distance, height and one human in the pit as I listened many nights. And I was there with him. No women (they had Women's Air Corps) WACs, we had one in our Church, but she did not fly jets. They served as ground crew being baby delivery systems and all, I guess. usa "protected" its women, but the US Air Force had women holding down defense jobs (most careers were in nursing - but there were airplane building jobs for Rosie the Riveter until the men got home from two World Wars). It was something to include all of us and make us feel that no matter how bad it got down here, you could be a voyeur and "touch the face of God".

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I think periodically, television and radio stations should locate the soundtrack of that broadcast and put it on the air. We need something to make us feel good about ourselves again. Rebellion lives in the absence of feeling any power or self worth (See Puerto Rico) no sense of advancement, no climb up a few rungs on the ladder. The horrors of home life, under Bowie-like pressures that are so unimaginable that children grow up twisted emotionally. The age of the isolatos. Guns come out as minds break, and we are all saddened, not knowing what to do to stop it. Like climate change, we recycle and use paper instead of plastic bags, but guns are still coming out, innocence is dying, and the Earth is heating up.

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Nation-Empires reach a plateau, like Messapotomia, like Britain, like Rome, and Greece, like Ottoman, Macedonia, Germany, The Holy Roman, France et al. Too over extended, too large a population to feed and clothe, the need to break off into nation-states, wealth filtering to the aristocracy, pressure from beyond a nation's borders. A few examples: interference in governance, invasion, trade imbalances, droughts, dictators, natural disasters (volcano eruptions) plague. Whatever the pressures internal or external, nations ultimately fall. In denial, chosing as we are free to do, we say "It's not that bad." or "It's been worse". Perhaps not. We may well be on the cuspe of collapse: If we are hit by a major recession soon as in any day now, it will send wave world-wide, fast as a jet breaking the sound barrier. Mega-corporations will fall. Someone will actually read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and start a movement to throw off a governement if we don't like the one we have. Rich own our govenment - then made sure they got to keep their taxes without oversight regulations. It's a good gig, sweetheart.

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If sixty million recently unemployed people march on Washington, D.C. with a list of demands, the national guard come out. Like Woodstock, we will never be the same if usa citizens lose it and stand inside the halls of governance (super gluing themselves in important doorways) to send a message about who Congressional and Judicial and Executive spaces belong to. What do you mean my kid can not go to college and I can't buy a new computer this year or the latest I-Phone with upgrades? Noting say revolt like the sudden removal of luxuries.

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The net and live transmission from anywhere to everywhere makes it seem that the world is blowing up more. It is not. There have always been catastrophies somewhere, we just heard about it later, or not at all. Now we can tap it non-stop 24/7 and in the middle of the night if we want to lock-on. A too fast pace and contemplation of distances may be too much for humans. We walk, we are land bound creatures. Whether jet, chariot, car, Ticonderoga Wagon, or a fast train, speed seems to have had a harsh and detrimental effect on civilizations ever since they coalesced and were built higher.

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So many things divide us. We are smarter (weaker and wiser) healthier, polluted up to the hair follicles, and dying of cancers from nuclear fission (you did know, right?) but we need to trim down the acceleration, stop and take an actual walk, collectively. We watch the phenomena in Japan where workers die from too much pressure of long intense work hours. Nations, and collectively Earth born, are moving fast toward the precipice. Again. 

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We need something to unite us and another war is not going to do it. People are broken. I'm just sayin'.

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allets

07-27-19

243a

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