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High Flight
#2849729 05/18/19 07:09 PM
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This has nothing to do with pianos but I wanted to share it.


Hugh Magee gave me a special copy of this poem for my birthday in 2010. It was written by his brother, John Gillespie Magee in 1941 and is displayed in every US Air Force base in the world. Hugh was an Anglican Priest, most recently in the Scottish Episcopal Church, which is where I met him in 2006. His wife Yvonne is a renowned painter, as well as being his best friend and companion for the last 30 years.

Hugh lived to be 85 years old, and died of congestive heart on April 24th. By his and Yvonne's request I visited him in the hospice and played some Bach to him a week before he died. Hugh was a great lover and supporter of the arts, and through his work in the Episcopal church in the USA befriended Van Cliburn, although I don't have any Van Cliburn stories to tell you all to spice this up, not that it needs spiced up. This is enough.

Hugh and Yvonne's humanity have left a deep impression on me. Hugh always taught that the only truth that exists is love, and his life was a testament to that conviction. I will miss him very much, and so will many other people. For those who may have any religious convictions here, his favourite passage in the Bible was the story of the prodigal son. He said in the last week of his life that story summed up his faith and relationship with God.

For me personally, since Hugh gave me a copy of this poem I have kept it either by my piano or by my bedside, and I have read it often since then. Today was Hugh's funeral mass at St Paul's Cathedral in Dundee, Scotland , and it seems like a good time to share the poem here:


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.

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Re: High Flight
Joseph Fleetwood #2849751 05/18/19 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Joe80
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.

I enjoyed your post, Joe, and I especially enjoyed Hugh's poem. It was very inspiring.

And, it is so nice that you were able to play some great classical music for Hugh on the piano not long before he passed away.

My late wife, Barbara, of 42 years (who passed away last December) wrote many spiritual poems and short stories in the last few years that she lived. We would combine the poems in a book and have 40 or 50 copies at a time printed. She wrote several books of spiritual poems and short stories but we never had them officially published. We paid to have them printed and she would just give them away to friends and family.

Thanks for posting Hugh's poem! It reminded me of my dear late wife, Barbara.

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: High Flight
Joseph Fleetwood #2849793 05/19/19 02:17 AM
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I have known and loved that poem since I was a teenager.

The poet, John Gillespie Magee Jr. was a World War II Anglo-American Royal Canadian Air Force fighter pilot and poet, who wrote the poem High Flight. He was killed in an accidental mid-air collision over England in 1941. (Courtesy Wikipedia).

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: High Flight
BruceD #2849817 05/19/19 05:00 AM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
I have known and loved that poem since I was a teenager.

The poet, John Gillespie Magee Jr. was a World War II Anglo-American Royal Canadian Air Force fighter pilot and poet, who wrote the poem High Flight. He was killed in an accidental mid-air collision over England in 1941. (Courtesy Wikipedia).

Regards,


That's right, when Hugh was just 8 years old. The poem was actually never intended for publication, and was written in a letter to his mother. It's almost an accident that it's out there in the world at all.

Hugh was a remarkable Priest, a complete maverick in many ways. In around 1990 He and his wife moved to San Fransisco where he took a charge as an assistant priest, and worked as a delivery driver to make ends meet. The reason he did this was because at that time he realised the gay community needed pastoral help because of the AIDS crisis. Hugh and his wife, and a team of carers would simply sit and be there as a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear for mainly young men who were terminally ill, but who had in many cases been rejected by their own families because of the stigma surrounding HIV at the time. Because of this work, his congregation grew, but sadly he was conducting as many as two funerals a week at the height of the crisis. It's easy now to water down the significance of this, but for a Christian priest to be there, without judgement, for these people, at that time, was revolutionary, even though it should have been the norm.

Hugh's father John Magee, was directly responsible for the ending of the Nanking Massacre in 1937, by filming the abuses of the Japanese army upon their Chinese prisoners, and smuggling the film out of China. John had no care for his own safety or reputation and only wanted the terrors to stop. That commitment to love evidently runs through the entire Magee family.

Re: High Flight
Rickster #2849818 05/19/19 05:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Rickster
Originally Posted by Joe80
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.

I enjoyed your post, Joe, and I especially enjoyed Hugh's poem. It was very inspiring.

And, it is so nice that you were able to play some great classical music for Hugh on the piano not long before he passed away.

My late wife, Barbara, of 42 years (who passed away last December) wrote many spiritual poems and short stories in the last few years that she lived. We would combine the poems in a book and have 40 or 50 copies at a time printed. She wrote several books of spiritual poems and short stories but we never had them officially published. We paid to have them printed and she would just give them away to friends and family.

Thanks for posting Hugh's poem! It reminded me of my dear late wife, Barbara.

Rick


I'm glad it brought you some comfort Rick.

Re: High Flight
Joseph Fleetwood #2849870 05/19/19 08:21 AM
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A truly remarkable life. Refreshing story.

Re: High Flight
Joseph Fleetwood #2849882 05/19/19 09:02 AM
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Joe80

Thank you very much for such a moving and inspiring post and for kindly sharing a glimpse of a life so devoted to LOVE - indeed the ultimate truth and the supreme form of intelligence in the Universe (regardless of the existence of deities or not).

More than a personal radiant memory of a dear friend, it is a well deserved tribute.

If only 10 % of the rest of us just did the "Magee" way, we would probably be in much better terms in this world.

Hope those examples will never be forgotten.

Flux


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Re: High Flight
Joseph Fleetwood #2849991 05/19/19 12:48 PM
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Thank you for sending in that poem !

Re: High Flight
Joseph Fleetwood #2850015 05/19/19 02:00 PM
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It is amazing the power a poem can have!



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Re: High Flight
Joseph Fleetwood #2850172 05/19/19 10:17 PM
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A lovely poem, that I can remember hanging in a frame in my grandfather's library. He was a Navy flight instructor and that poem always inspired me. Enough to get my pilot license when I was 18 and then an instrument rating. I still carry the opening words of that poem in my mind to this day.


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