The men who billow down the sea in ships
Have earned these ages tributes justly high;
But now is newly told on peoples’s lips
Of men in airy craft who seek the sky.
Flung freely through their newer kingdom won,
Clean wings describe the geometric arc,
And hurtle down the starlight to the dark
Or gambol with the spear-shafts of the sun.
A newer kingdom and a newer race—
They spurn with pride the lowly creed of earth,
And glory in the boundlessness of space,
Where worlds through aeons past have leapt to birth.
Though mortal span is told in numbered weeks
They brush eternity with youthful cheeks.
I found this piece on this archive, provided by “Cornelius 0Brien” with the following description:
I found this sonnet in the published memoirs of Gordon Fox. Gordon, uncle of my wife Rosie, was a bomber pilot in World War Two. His memoirs, written in diary form, were published privately about a year after his death in September, 2001. His eldest son Kennedy Fox very kindly sent us a copy. This sonnet (“A Newer Kingdom” is my name for it) was found by Gordon in an anthology of air force poems. Kennedy says that neither he nor his father had any idea who wrote the poem.
I know nothing more than Cornelius but this one works for me.