1] "The reprintings vary in punctuation, capitalization, and indentation from the original manuscript, which is in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. Some portions are faded and difficult to read, but ... [this] version ... follows Magee's as exactly as can be made out, following his pencilled note on another poem, "If anyone should want this please see that it is accurately copied, capitalized, and punctuated." Nearly all versions use `... even eagle,' but to the editor's careful scrutiny, it was `ever,' formed exactly like the preceding `never'" (Respectfully Quoted, 118).
2] Evidently borrowed from G. W. M. Dunn's "New World": "With zest we soar on laughter-silvered wings / From fevered ways, panic and petty deeds", as published in Icarus: An Anthology of the Poetry of Flight, ed. Rupert De la Bčre (London: Macmillan, 1938). Courtesy of Tony French, who reports this and other conscious or unconscious debts in his note, "Magee: The Plagiarist Poet?", Pilot (March 1997): 90.
13] Indebted to a line in "Dominion over Air" by C. A. F. B.: "Across the unpierced sanctity of space" (published in Icarus; note courtesy of Tony French).
14] Magee's most famous line, indebted to two lines in "The Blind Man Flies" by Cuthbert Hicks: "For I have danced the streets of heaven, / And touched the face of God" (published in Icarus; note courtesy of Tony French).
Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Magee's poem in effect entered the public domain shortly after his death because it was very widely printed during and after the war.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations Requested from the Congrssional Research Service, ed. Suzy Platt (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1989): 117-18.
First publication date: 1941
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2002
Recent editing: 1:2002/10/13*1:2003/11/10
Form note: ababcdcd efegfg
Other poems by John Gillespie Magee Jr.