The poem “High Flight” was unknown to me, until it was quoted in the comment section of an article about the theft (and subsequent crash in Puget Sound) of an airplane by Richard “Beebo” Russell. Its author, John Gillespie Magee Jr., is primarily known because of his poem, having been killed in flight during the war.
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.
It called to mind "The Fury of Aerial Bombardment" by Richard Eberhart, below in its original version, minus the extra stanza added later:
The Fury of Aerial Bombardment
Would rouse God to relent; the infinite spaces
Are still silent. He looks on shock-pried faces.
History, even, does not know what is meant.
You would feel that after so many centuries
God would give man to repent; yet he can kill
As Cain could, but with multitudinous will,
No farther advanced than in his ancient furies.
Was man made stupid to see his own stupidity?
Is God by definition indifferent, beyond us all?
Is the eternal truth man’s fighting soul
Wherein the Beast ravens in its own avidity?