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The Surly Bonds of Earth

by ack (Deacon)
on Jul 19, 2008 at 00:58 UTC ( #698762=poem: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth.

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Perlward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

of regex-split $clouds -- and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of -- grep'ed ad map'ed and shifted

High in the pragmatic silence. Hov'ring there,

I've chased the shouting @INC along, and flung

My eager objects through footless halls of methods...

Up, up the long, delirious, burning decompositions

I've topped the test-swept heights with easy grace

Where never tester nor even coder flew --

And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod

The high untresspassed sanity of design,

Put out my psyche, and touched the face of Wall.

UPDATE: Note, this is taken from a now famous passage and I am not that author. I have just taken it and modified it towards a Perl bent. I don't recall the original author; but it is one of my favorite passages and this is not intended to in any way detract from that wonderful original.

ack Albuquerque, NM

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Re: The Surly Bonds of Earth
by MidLifeXis (Monsignor) on Jul 19, 2008 at 12:15 UTC

    The poem is originally by John Gillespie Magee Jr (see for the entire poem). See also this google search for more stuff.

    Quite a famous passage. Used by Reagan while speaking of the Challenger crew after that shuttle disaster...

    As found at
    Oh I Have Slipped The Surly Bonds of Earth... Put Out My Hand And Touched the Face of God
    How did these lines become so famous? Because they are a classic case of a speechwriter having the appropriate quotation to hand at the right moment. On 28 January 1986, in his TV broadcast to the nation on the day of the space shuttle Challenger disaster, President Reagan concluded: `We will never forget them this morning as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.'
    It happened while I was in late grade school, and the disaster and Reagan's speech made quite an impression on my young mind.
    Update: More references


      I had been out of grad school almost 10 years and had for the then previous 5 years been working as a Sr. Systems Engineer for Ford Aerospace at NASA's Johnson Space Flight Center. I had arrived to work on the Shuttle Mission Control Center about 4 months after the first Shuttle Flight. After about 4 years working on the Mission Control Center, I had been given an extended Temporary Duty (TDY) assignment to work on the Boost Phase Tracking System (BSTS), Regan's Star Wars replacement for our aging Defense Satellite Program (DSP) system. I was sent to Sunnyvale, CA, to work that program and was there when the Challenger disaster occured.

      On a previous post on a very different topic I noted my memories of how much NASA had been trying and driving all of their systems and contractors to warm up to the view of the Shuttle as "just another transportation system" and that we had to get over the worries about "loosing one." After the Challenger, everything changed and it became clear that the Shuttle was *not* just "another transportation system" and it changed the Shuttle program forever; NASA has never really recovered.

      But as you so well pointed out, my memory of that day was two things: (1) the images of the reusable fuel tanks flying away from the main body as the main body exploded into that horrible fireball and (2) Regan's speach in which he concluded the saying rememered and reflected here.

      Thanks for your really wonderful reply...and for all the replies that I've seen.

      ack Albuquerque, NM

      All the more poignant given the speaker.

      I wonder who wrote his speech?

        See my update to my original reply. Peggy Noonan (at least according to WikiPedia) wrote the speech.


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