Started by Diane at On the Alberta/Montana Border, and picked up by Delores at Mumblings, Poetry Monday is a chance to celebrate poetry by writing, reading, or both. You can leave your offering in the comments at any of our blogs, or on your own blog. Just let us know where to look.
At Procrastinating Donkey, I am running out of ideas for my own poetry. This may have something to do with my real job taking more of my brain recently, or maybe it's just that I'm not, at heart, a writer of poetry as much as a reader of it. Whatever the reason, I am posting someone else's poem today. It's one I discovered as a teenager when my Grade 12 class was given an English assignment. The assignment seemed simple enough: "Create your own anthology. At least half must be poetry, and at least half must be original work."
I still have my anthology and treasure it. I remember every piece I wrote for it, and looking through magazines for artwork to illustrate my choices. The assignment left a lot of room for non-original pieces, too, and there was one poem I liked so much I memorized it -- without being required to.
Now that is not a major accomplishment by the standards of even one generation before me. My parents were routinely given poems to be memorized and recited in class. My grandfather's generation was also made to do this, and he continued to commit poems to memory into his old age, just for fun. (More on that next Poetry Monday.)
I can still recite today's poem, over forty years later. The words, ideas and phrases just begged to be read aloud again and again, and seared themselves in my mind.
As an aside, there is only one other poem that I have ever learned by heart: In Flanders Fields, by John McCrae. I think just about every Canadian child is required to lean this for Remembrance Day recitations; McCrae was a Canadian poet and a physician in World War I, and his poem is one of the best-known war poems ever written. I consider it a privilege to have had the chance to learn it as a youngster.
But when, you ask, are we getting to the poem du jour?
This is another poem from wartime. I didn't realize until I was doing some research for this post that it is as famous as In Flanders Fields. Both poems still gives me goosebumps.
by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
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.
|From Pixabay, used with great appreciation.
A note on the poet, from wwwyourdailypoem.com:
"John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (1922 - 1941) was born in Shanghai, China, to an English mother and an American father. At the age of eighteen, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force, trained as a pilot, and was sent to England to fly a Supermarine Spitfire with the 412 Fighter Squadron. After a high altitude test flight one day, John wrote his parents a letter and enclosed a poem--this one--that test flight inspired. He was killed a few months later, when his plane collided with that of another British military pilot."
High Flight is in the public domain.