Tuesday, October 07, 2008

High Flight

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 slient lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee

No 412 squadron, RCAF

Killed 11 December 1941

I memorized this beautiful poem in elementary school but at the time was just counting the lines toward the two hundred we were required to recite each school year. The poet, Gillespie Magee was only 19 years old when he died in a mid-air collision while serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force in WW II. He was the son of Anglican missionaries to China, his father an American from the Pittsburg area and his mother a British citizen. He joined the Canadian Air force in 1940 as America had not yet entered the war.

Man has many natural abilities on earth and in the water, but the human body was not designed for flight. Yet man has admired creatures who are able fly and has always yearned to soar upwards. The psalmist wrote in Psalm 55:6,

"Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest..."

We aspire to reach the pinnacle, the summit, the stars!

Hot air balloon rides are readily available in our region and calm morning and evening skies are often dotted with a number of colourful balloons. The park in the city centre has a large lawn where they can be launched. We watched yesterday, which was a perfect fall day, as a balloon was removed from a trailer, was stretched out on the grass and then inflated with a large (and noisy) fan.

The passengers signed the contract and boarded the basket as a crowd of onlookers stood around and watched the sight. The entire process took about half an hour and the balloon was in the air, sailing over the city and countryside.

I took some movie clips and have put them together in this movie that is just over four minutes long. I used Windows Movie Maker as usual, but the Becka is going to show me how to use the much superior movie software on the iMac. She assures me the music track will be much improved.


  1. Few things are more beautiful than a graceful hot air balloon floating in the sky. (But I still don't want to be in one.)

  2. Such colorful balloons.
    The poem "High Flight" is the one that Pres. Reagan used when memorializing the shuttle Challenger astronauts who also "had reached out and touched the face of God" in their ill-fated space flight. A very moving poem indeed.

  3. i have always wanted to ride in a balloon but am afraid of heights but one day i will.
    i loved the poem. my dh writes poetry and has never had the nerve to publish but one day i will help him do that to.
    thanks i am truly inspired.

  4. There is a small airport right across the street from CLA (Christian Life Assembly) in Langley. I'd have to arrive early to get ready for Sunday School and often, in the fall, there would be hot hair balloons going up ... both in the morning and in the evening. I've always wanted to go up in one but have never wanted to pay the bucks.

    The poem and the story of the young man who wrote it was very touching!

    You have an iMac now? THE best!

  5. Beautiful poem......it really moved me.....

    I went on a hot air balloon flight three years ago now......it was wonderful, so quiet.......a young man asked his girlfriend to marry him....it was such a romantic moment......when we touched down it was champagne for everyone....she said YES......

  6. I enjoyed the movie clip and those balloons are so pretty. It's hard to believe that the poem was written by a 19 year old...wonder what he would have contributed to the world had he lives...sigh...

  7. Looks like a lot of fun. So far, I haven't had the opportunity.

  8. Anonymous7:37 pm GMT-4

    Hot Air Balloons move through the sky so peaceful and I can only imagine the world below. I would love to go on one, but don't know if I can find enough courage to step in the basket. I gave my friend a gift one year for a balloon ride and she had the time of her life.

    What a lovely poem written by such a young life. I wonder if knows what mark he left on this earth?

  9. Anonymous7:45 pm GMT-4

    Beautiful pictures as usual. I have always loved that poem and even more so when I learned it was my brother's favorite also. It was printed on the program for his memorial service.
    What is the building with the white domes in the background of the picture of the park? Just curious.

  10. Great post.The poem brought me back to my school years.How true that we are not made for flight ,but we can reach out and touch the face of God,or more correctly He touches us and we are never the same.

  11. I would love to go up in a hot air balloon. Hopefully one day!
    I remember memorizing that poem in grade 7. It always gave me the shivers. Funny, I've been thinking of it as I take my morning walks lately. I think it must be because the sky looks so blue first thing.
    Nice post - liked the video clip.

  12. I get goosebumps reading the words.Your pictures are beautiful.

  13. NCMW- When this balloon ascended I thought for the first time that a ride would be lovely.

    KGMom- I didn't know the poem was used on that tragic occasion. It was very fitting. I remember that your dad went in a hot air balloon as an older man.

    Marmee- I don't care for heights either. Hope your dh does get his poetry recognized.

    CS- I have had Mac computers for years, but just got a newer one. But my laptop is a PC. I still have to get it set up for my email etc...maybe on the weekend.

    Cheryl- That sounds like a very memorable balloon ride! The rides are quite pricey, around $250-300 a person.

    RW- People grew up quickly during the war years and knew life could be brief. The insights and thoughts expressed in the poem are no typical of most 19 year olds I have known.

    AC- Sundance Balloons offers rides all over Ontario. It would be lovely to ride above your part of the province.

    Cheryl D- We should go birding in a balloon sometime! ;-)

    Mom- I had forgotten about the poem being used at Uncle Bill's service. The building behind the park entrance is a TD bank near the bus terminal.

    Ruth- Our spirits long to soar for sure. I am sure that is part of God's design for us.

    Wendy- The poem must have been part of the curriculum for Canadian schools. Hope you get your ride someday.

    Jean- I thought of your husband when I wrote the post.


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