Friday, May 1, 2009

Where never lark or ever eagle flew

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 ever 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; RCAF

This is one of my favorite verses. The author, a pilot, was killed in Britain during WWII. I was first exposed to it as a closing spot for a local television station in my early years. It was a voice-over as a jet climbed and soared through those same clouds.

I have always been fascinated by flight, both planes and spacecraft. As a child my family would sometimes go to the airport and watch the planes takeoff and land. Hey, we were poor and it was entertainment. To this day I will stand and watch a plane fly by or overhead. It is beauty and technology entwined, grace, speed and power. The open sky makes for a startling backdrop.

I have never piloted a plane, other than one made of cardboard, with crayon gauges and tinker-toy levers. I think even most of the ugly craft have their own beauty. Although jets are sleek and powerful I have always had a preference for the prop. It is man and machine. The planes specifically of WWII are some of my favorite: the F4U Corsair, P38 Lightning, P40 Warhawk and PBY Catalina, just to name a few. Of more modern craft the Starfighter, F16 Falcon and A6 Intruder are some of the more elegant craft.

Someday I would love to be aloft in one of these magnificent machines. For a birthday present one year, Sainted Mother gave me a glider ride. My Beloved cruised the heavens aloft with me (and the pilot). It was wonderful.

And one day, I will reach out my hand, to touch the face of God. (Unless I'm in a commercial aircraft where I would most likely be arrested).

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