On Laughter Silvered Wings
Original Painting by Keith Ferris
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32" x 24"
Oil on canvas
John Gillespie Magee met his death in this aircraft on 11 December 1941 shortly after he wrote and mailed his famous poem “High Flight” to his parents.
Inspired by the world-renowned aviator’s poem by John Gillespie Magee, this painting displays the joy of flight epitomized by his poem “HIGH FLIGHT”. Magee dances among the clouds “On Laughter Silvered Wings” in the Spitfire VZ-H, AD291 in which he met his death on 11 December 1941. The British Supermarine Spitfire is arguably the most elegant combat aircraft ever built.
I knew the poem “High Flight” as a young boy and thought how wonderful it would be to fly amongst the sun-split clouds. After having had that opportunity on many occasions, I was moved to paint John Gillespie Magee in his element.
The title is borrowed from the second line of his wonderful poem as he defines the performance of his Spitfire and his love of flight.
“HIGH FLIGHT” *
by John Gillespie Magee
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.