Tag Archives: WW2

Burning

English summers, often damp, can invoke long stifling twilights
Nothing landbound needlessly moves
Contrails crayon across the sky
So many, this close to London’s hub
Distantly, the buzz of a low plane, pleasure rider reaching up
Into the realm of the starlings as they susurrate
A car comes past in the lane droning away round the curves
Here the runway cross remains
The old tower still stands intact
As ponies munch and cattle chew
Larks lurk in the grass where bombers once turned
Occasional ironwork testament to hydrants and gun emplacements
War and weapons layered over by Nature and time
But, as the dark deepens, the lost come home
Tearing blazing incandescent screams rustle up drowsy birds
Look up and the dazzling burning blurs past
Metal screeches as it tears apart, each time the same
One last attempt at landing whole, at bringing the crate home
So wanting to see sweethearts and Blighty again
Then gone, back to oblivion
The burning pilot saluted you as he passed

Copyright © 2017 Kim Whysall-Hammond

This poem first appeared in Peacock Journal earlier this year.

 

 


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High Flight

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.

Pt Off. John Gillespie Magee, Jr, RCAF, 1941

 

John Magee was a Canadian Spitfire pilot in England in World War 2. He died in 1941. This poem is just wonderful and has been quoted again and again —I remember Ronald Reagan quoting it after the Challenger crash.

I wish I could write like this.