Sunday, 8 July 2012

Angels about?

This morning sunshine after two solid days of heavy summer rain, there's been flooding all over the north- west of England.  Earlier a magpie landed on my window-ledge and looked in at me with his black shiny eyes and sharp pointy beak, whilst snowflakes of angels feathers blew on the breeze or so it seemed.  Either someone somewhere was shaking free their duvet or a million dandelion clocks had stopped ticking and tufts of time floated freely in the morning air.  Lazing along not a care in the world.
This side of my magpie stand white freesia and carnations, they capture my heart and their fragrance perfumes my day.


Questions About Angels
by Billy Collins

Of all the questions you might want to ask
about angels, the only one you ever hear
is how many can dance on the head of a pin.

No curiosity about how they pass the eternal time
besides circling the Throne chanting in Latin
or delivering a crust of bread to a hermit on earth
or guiding a boy and girl across a rickety wooden bridge.

Do they fly through God's body and come out singing?
Do they swing like children from the hinges
of the spirit world saying their names backwards and forwards?
Do they sit alone in little gardens changing colours?

What about their sleeping habits, the fabric of their robes,
their diet of unfiltered divine light?
What goes on inside their luminous heads?  Is there a wall
these tall presences can look over and see hell?

If an angel fell off a cloud, would he leave a hole
in a river and would the hole float along endlessly
filled with silent letters of every angelic word?

If an angel delivered the mail, would he arrive 
in a blinding rush of wings or would he just assume
the appearance of the regular mail-man and
whistle up the driveway reading the postcards?

No, the medieval theologians control the court.
The only question you ever hear is about 
the dance floor on the head of a pin
where halos are meant to converge and drift invisibly.

It is designed to make us think in millions,
billions, to make us run out of numbers and collapse
into infinity, but perhaps the answer is simply one:
one female angel dancing alone in her stocking feet,
a small jazz combo working in the background.

She sways like a branch in the wind, her beautiful
eyes closed, and the tall thin bassist leans over
to glance at his watch because she has been dancing 
forever, and now it is very late, even for musicians.

Copyright 1991 by Billy Collins. All rights controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

8 comments:

Lesya Hearst said...

Beautiful post Jane!

Splenderosa said...

What beautiful words, my dear Jane. Both yours and his. This is a fantastic post !!

Teresa Evangeline said...

Speaking of angels, this is one of my favorite Billy Collins poems. I'm so glad you've posted it. I love your lines about "dandelion clocks," and "tufts of time." Very nice. I really enjoyed this.

WOL said...

I like the poem! Especially that last verse. I'm going to steal it and repost it.

Made me think of the Sarah McGlaughlin song "Angel." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVbkz_3lO3c

WOL said...

Oh, and --
http://techannounce.ttu.edu/Client/ViewMessage.aspx?MsgId=137826

My alma mater - I hate it when I find out about things ex post facto. Six degrees of Kevin Bacon. . .er . . .separation strikes again.

WOL said...

Oh, and while we're on the subject of angels, the Samaria books (http://sharonshinn.net/HTML/samaria.html) by Sharon Shinn, which I think you'll like.

Debra said...

Jane, I think the angel would assume the presence of the mailman.

Just like I think I have an angel friend across the ocean who blows snowflakes of feathers my way, and magically perfumes my day with white freesia and carnations!

Delightful!

June said...

What a precious post my dear friend. I an enchanted by the words of the verses. And living with my own sweet angel makes this post all the more sweet to me Jane. Thank you!
sending love...