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Poetry of a pilot

From Mr David Peckett

Sir: Peggy Noonan may well have been the most influential sentence-doctor in recent history ("Er, say that again, Prime Minister?", 4 July), but she did not create the phrase "slipping the surly bonds of earth" for Ronald Reagan.

She was quoting from probably the finest poem written about the magic of flying - High Flight by John Gillespie Magee: "Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth/and danced the skies/on laughter silvered wings ... ."

Magee died in a flying accident at the tragically early age of 19 in 1941. His words are carved as his epitaph on the headstone of his grave in the village graveyard in Scopwick, Lincolnshire.

Yours faithfully,

David Peckett


4 July