To think that I should ever see
A Tiger Moth up in a tree:
A tree whose countenance is pressed
Against the Tiger's oily chest,
A tree whose leafy arms embrace
This thing which came to her through space.
A tree who may in summer wear
A battered airscrew in her hair,
And on her bosom shyly borne,
A set of mainplanes, somewhat torn,
While, lying close beside her heart,
Is tightly pressed an undercart.
A tree who held with tender care
This navigator of the air,
Until some men with tools and crane
Her burden carried home again.
Planes are repaired by fools like me,
But how can we repair the tree?
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 silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed 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