Monday, April 25, 2011


As I wrote in this angel post, I considered the name Angels in the Architecture for my blog (from Paul Simon's song "You Can Call Me Al"). Just like the name I eventually went with, that one suggested God's presence everywhere, even when we aren't aware of it.

Lately I've been listening pretty much constantly to Paul Simon's latest album, So Beautiful or So What. I love it. It grows on me more and more as I listen, and while I can't ever like any album more than Graceland, this one is wonderful.

One of my favorite songs on the new album is called Questions for the Angels:

A pilgrim on a pilgrimage
Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge
His sneakers torn
In the hour when the homeless move their cardboard blankets
And the new day is born
Folded in his backpack pocket
The questions that he copied from his heart
Who am I in this lonely world?
And where will I make my bed tonight?
When twilight turns to dark

Questions for the angels
Who believes in angels?
Fools do
Fools and pilgrims all over the world

If you shop for love in a bargain store
And you don’t get what you bargained for
Can you get your money back?
If an empty train in a railroad station
Calls you to its destination
Can you choose another track?
Will I wake up from these violent dreams
With my hair as white as the morning moon?

You can read the rest of the lyrics, and listen to the song, here.

Listening to this song made me think of Billy Collins' poem "Questions About Angels."

It starts like this:

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.

Here's my favorite stanza:

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 mailman and
whistle up the driveway reading the postcards?

You can read the whole wonderful poem here. And here you can listen to Billy Collins read it.

I am not setting myself up in competition with the Monday poetry stretches at The Miss Rumphius Effect (as if I could!), but I think this would make a wonderful poetry stretch. What questions would you ask the angels, or ask about the angels, if you could? And while you're thinking about it, here's Tiel Aisha Ansari's poem, "Living with Angels", one of my favorite angel poems, and one to which I linked in that angel post I referenced back in the first paragraph of this post.

So what do you say? Will you write a poem about angels this week? I'm going to try, and see if I can post it at the end of the week for Poetry Friday.


Janet said...

I wrote my magnum opus where angels are concerned in my Christmas poem. I fear I don't have any more angel lyrics in me...

That Billy Collins poem is great! Have you ever read "St Peter and the Angel" by Denise Levertov? It's another good one. I also like Steven Curtis Chapman's song "Angels Wish."

Linda B said...

I don't know anything about angel poems, Ruth, but now you've started me down a path, & then Janet above shared two more titles. I guess one could take most any topic & find something that a poet has written about. Both the Collins' & the Ansari poems are wonderful,thoughts from great poets, aren't they? Thanks for getting me thinking again!