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.
~ from High Flight by John Gillespie Magee
Magee (1922-41) fought and died in the Second World War; he was half-American, born in China, and served in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Magee wrote ‘High Flight’, a sonnet, about the exhilarating experience of flying through the air in a fighter-plane. Magee was killed in an accidental mid-air collision over England in 1941; his poem gained a new lease on life when then President Ronald Reagan quoted from it following the Challenger disaster in 1986.