Franchise of the sky

Excerpts from Sagittarius Rising, by Cecil Lewis

And should I not, had I but known, have flung the machine this way and that, once more to feel it live under my hand, have sported in the sky and laughed and sung, knowing that never after should I feel so free, so sure in hazard, so secure, riding the daylight in the pride of youth? No more horizons wider than Hope! No more the franchise of the sky, the freedom of the blue! No more! No more! Farewell to wings! Down to the little earth!


In his 1993 Foreword to the Third Edition, Cecil Lewis says, "It is more than 50 years since this book first appeared and over 70 since the days it describes lay in the present tense. The young swanker who wrote it all in the exuberance of youth has now dwindled to an old gaffer with white hair..."

Sagittarius Rising first appeared in 1936, recounting Cecil Lewis's days as a fighter pilot in the First World War and as a flying instructor in China in the 1920s. He died in 1997 at age 98.

Excerpts 1 | Excerpts 2 | Contents

All page numbers are from the Folio Society edition, 1998

Sagittarius Rising: illustration of World War I fighter plane over battlefield