Magee brings many of us here together; he was an American born in Shanghai to an American father and British mother (missionaries), joined the Royal Canadian Air Force before the US entered the war. He was trained in Canada and assigned to 412 Sqn (still operational) on Spitfires; he perished in a midair over Lincolnshire 11 Dec 41.
High Flight is one of my favourite poems ever.
I don't know whether you know this, but Magee was educated at Rugby School from 1935-39, where he began to develop his talent for poetry. He won the school's Poetry Prize in 1938. He was particularly moved by the roll of honour of Rugby pupils who had fallen in World War 1, including the poet Rupert Brooke, who famously wrote
IF I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by the suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.