“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.”
Another example that portrays the double-edged sword of the love of flight is the poem “High Flight” by aviator poet John Gillepsie. He wrote the now famous poem a few months before he died at the age of 19 following a midair collision between his Spitfire and a training aircraft. The collision occurred at a low altitude of 1400’, and the pilots were unable to exit their aircraft before impact. Both were killed.
Musician and pilot John Denver once set this poem to music, and I find it to be one of the most profoundly moving songs I have ever heard. Sadly, John Denver died while piloting an experimental aircraft after this song was released.