High Flight

Original Text: 
Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations Requested from the Congressional Research Service, ed. Suzy Platt (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1989): 117-18.
3Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
4of sun-split clouds, -- and done a hundred things
5You have not dreamed of -- wheeled and soared and swung
6High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
7I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
8My eager craft through footless halls of air ....
9Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
10I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
11Where never lark nor ever eagle flew --
12And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod

Notes

1] "The reprintings vary in punctuation, capitalization, and indentation from the original manuscript, which is in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. Some portions are faded and difficult to read, but ... [this] version ... follows Magee's as exactly as can be made out, following his pencilled note on another poem, "If anyone should want this please see that it is accurately copied, capitalized, and punctuated." Nearly all versions use `... even eagle,' but to the editor's careful scrutiny, it was `ever,' formed exactly like the preceding `never'" (Respectfully Quoted, 118). Back to Line
2] Evidently borrowed from G. W. M. Dunn's "New World": "With zest we soar on laughter-silvered wings / From fevered ways, panic and petty deeds", as published in Icarus: An Anthology of the Poetry of Flight, ed. Rupert De la Bère (London: Macmillan, 1938). Courtesy of Tony French, who reports this and other conscious or unconscious debts in his note, "Magee: The Plagiarist Poet?", Pilot (March 1997): 90. Back to Line
13] Indebted to a line in "Dominion over Air" by C. A. F. B.: "Across the unpierced sanctity of space" (published in Icarus; note courtesy of Tony French). Back to Line
14] Magee's most famous line, indebted to two lines in "The Blind Man Flies" by Cuthbert Hicks: "For I have danced the streets of heaven, / And touched the face of God" (published in Icarus; note courtesy of Tony French). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1941
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2002
Form: 
Special Copyright: 

Magee's poem in effect entered the public domain shortly after his death because it was very widely printed during and after the war.