One of the upsides of blogging is that bloggers have a happy tendency to post about the serendipitously discovered nuggets of neatness and wonder that they find lying loose among the dross and chaff of everyday life.  This little gem was gleaned by Half Heard In the Stillness.  I particularly like the imagery in the last two verses.  Well fielded, HHITS.

Questions About Angels

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.

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

A dancing angel.   Yeah, I could see that.  Dancing to that famous jazz, the music of the spheres,  Too many images of serious angels about.  Seriously, how could you have wings and be able to fly and be serious?  At which point the riff wanders through the Samaria series by Sharon Shinn, which is a take of a different color on materia angelica

Oh, and I’m putting this


Out of the nothingness of sleep,
The slow dreams of Eternity,
There was a thunder on the deep:
I came, because you called to me. . .

where I can find it again.  I think it is a story egg, and I’ll be interested to see, if it hatches, what it hatches.  It’s the first verse of a poem by Rupert Brooke, who wrote “capital P” Poetry — the rest of the poem is a little overheated for my taste and grandiose in a kind of overblown Victorian way, but I do like that line, “There was a thunder on the deep”.  Don’t know about that “nothingness of sleep” bit — my sleep, at any rate,  is too chock-a-block with dreams to qualify as “nothingness.”  I found the poem after the riff had waded across the stream of wonderful music that flows through the wonderful voice of Kate Rusby and out into the world. . .

Oh, and while we’re poetizing,  a shot of Edna St. Vincent Millay never goes amiss.

(from The Harp-Weaver, and Other Poems)

Loving you less than life, a little less
Than bitter-sweet upon a broken wall
Or bush-wood smoke in autumn, I confess
I cannot swear I love you not at all.
For there is that about you in this light–
A yellow darkness, sinister of rain–
Which sturdily recalls my stubborn sight
To dwell on you, and dwell on you again.
And I am made aware of many a week
I shall consume, remembering in what way
Your brown hair grows about your brow and cheek,
And what divine absurdities you say:
Till all the world, and I, and surely you,
Will know I love you, whether or not I do.

That phrase “A yellow darkness, sinister of rain –”  Spot on, Edna.  Absolutely spot on.   Well, enough of that.  There’s work to do.  The Mag has another challenge up.  I think I’ll rise to it (or stoop to it — we’ll see).