“High Flight”

highflight3I have recently been reading a book called “Through Corridors of Light: Poems of Consolation in Time of Illness” (you can buy it at Amazon UK if you like) which includes lots of poems about illness, some with a spiritual element and some not, and which I would heartily recommend. I would definitely check out Gwyneth Lewis‘ “Angel of Depression” which I would have liked to post to you, but I suspect I cannot do so.

I like poetry, especially for its ability to reach out and express things that are almost indescribable. During my first illness I used to write a lot of poetry to try to get onto paper the things that were going on in my head. Reading them back, many don’t make that much sense, and many were simply full of despair. I did get a great deal of comfort from writing them, and I used to share them in my then blog on Diaryland, as well as on a self injury message board which I was then a member of.  They weren’t particularly good, but I think that being creative is very helpful when we’re not feeling well, and I suppose that that is why arts therapists and occupational therapists do work in hospitals.

This poem below is by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. According to his Wikipedia page he was: “an American aviator and poet who died as a result of a mid-air collision over Lincolnshire during World War II.” He wrote his most famous poem, “High Flight” about his feelings of being in the air.

The reason I have included this poem on this blog is because I feel a connection with the emotion he is describing. Specifically, that euphoria he describes is similar to hypomania, as I experience it. It does feel like flight, like escaping Earth and doing, seeing amazing things that other people have not and cannot see. I don’t know whether my experience is like that of others, but I thought I would share in any case.

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.

-John Gillespie Magee, Jr


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