Found in The Poetry of Flight, an Anthology (edited by Stella Wolfe Murray, published by Heath Cranton, London 1925) this stirring poem by the American poet Minna Irving (1857 – 1940) Her real name was Minnie Odell Michiner and she was from Tarrytown, New York. She published a poetry collection, “Songs of a Haunted Heart” in 1888, and published poems in turn-of-the-century periodicals such as Munsey’s, The Smart Set, and The Gray Goose. She also wrote a science fiction story “The Moon Woman” which appeared in the November 1929 issue of Amazing Stories (right.) She has no Wikipedia entry. The anthology, which has pieces by Homer, Swinburne, Duncan Campbell Scott and W.H. Davies is dedicated ‘..to the memory of all have given their lives for aeronautical progress.’ Her poem could have been written by an Italian Futurist and has all the excitement of the early days of aviation.
The Army of the Planes
They are coming with the drumming of a million pinions humming
And the purr of mighty motors that are all in time and tune
Proudly soaring with the roaring of the thousand northers pouring
Through the vast and hollow spaces sacred to the sun and moon
They are racing into places filled with radiant star faces
Following the meteor’s speedways and the comet’s ancient lanes,
And the universe is shaking, and the waking earth is quaking
At the terror and the marvel of the army of the planes
Wings of wonder as they thunder sweep the rolling clouds asunder
Sailing great uncharted oceans of the empyrean blue;
Struts are singing, wires are ringing, swift propeller blades are flinging
Spray of diamond dust and silver when they cut a star in two.
Hail the aerial squadrons forming through the fields of azure storming, Battle birds the crimson war god to celestial combat trains,
Swooping down from viewless regions to the aid of earthly legions—
Hail the glorious, victorious, valiant army of the planes!