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Jon Burch Photography
Photograph - Digital Capture/digital Painting
- 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 wind-swept 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.
John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (9 June 1922 - 11 December 1941) was an American aviator and poet who died as a result of a mid-air collision over Lincolnshire during World War II. Magee was serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force, which he joined before the United States officially entered the war and is most famous for his poem "High Flight."
He was killed at the age of 19, while flying Spitfire VZ-H which had departed with other members of 412 Squadron from Royal Air Force (RAF) Wellingore. The aircraft was involved in a mid-air collision with an Airspeed Oxford trainer from Cranwell, flown by another airman. The two aircraft collided just below the cloud base at about 1,400 feet Above Ground Level, at 11:30, over the hamlet of Roxholme, which lies between RAF Cranwell and RAF Digby, in Lincolnshire. Magee was descending at high speed through a break in the clouds with three other aircraft.
At the inquiry afterwards a farmer testified that he saw the Spitfire pilot struggling to push back the canopy. The pilot stood up to jump from the plane but was too close to the ground for his parachute to open, and died on impact. The other pilot was also killed.
Magee is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery, Scopwick in Lincolnshire, England. On his grave are inscribed the first and last lines from his poem High Flight:
The original photograph was made with a Canon t3i camera prior to the application of various oil processes.
Photograph copyright Jon Burch Photography
April 27th, 2013
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