Sunday, March 14, 2010

Descent of an Angel

An angel descended to see if in truth a
A much-fabled region others had mentioned could
Really be found—where great orbs perpetually burned
And— gathered in clusters by magical pulls—they
Slowly, majestically, whirled and thus formed diamonds
And sparks that lit up domains of permanent dark.

In its descent the angel with pleasure noted
A fading of heavenly light as it now left
The infinite mansions behind and, so it seemed,
Approached a vast zone where darkness and light,
Stirred into twilight that seemed like a froth on the
Surface of oceans of impenetrable night.

“First the darkness,” thought the angel, “then the diamonds
Shall appear.” Into the darkness the angel now
Felt its magnificence gradually drawn until
The last faint light of home blinked out and true darkness
Came. But it was empty, empty, a vast neant.
No trace of sentience, of life, of thought. A void.

“Where are the sparks, where is the light—where have I erred?”
The angel thought. “My heavenly vision. Am I
Now blind?” The angel saw nothing, but God sees all.
The angel’s great wings swept right through whole clouds, whole swarms
Of galaxies, trillions of stars; its subtle
Substance could not perceive this coarser region’s touch.

Nor could it see or even guess that its great wings
Touched, interpenetrated the bodies of trillion
Lesser creatures on countless tiny balls, creatures
As blind, indeed, in their own way, as the great angel
was. Gazing up into their skies they also failed
To see a gorgeous angel in its flight distraught.

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To this, by way of commentary, two quotes from Swedenborg:

Since angels have no notion of time, they have a different idea of eternity from that which men of the earth have… There were angels who were admitted more nearly into my thoughts, and even into natural ones in which were many things from time and space; but because they then understood nothing, they suddenly withdrew; and after they had withdrawn, I heard them talking and saying that they had been in darkness. [Heaven and Hell, Emanuel Swedenborg, ¶ 167-168]

The superiority of [the angels’] outer senses to those of the world is as that of sunshine to cloud darkness in the world, and as that of noonday light to evening shade; for the light of heaven, because it is Divine truth, enables the sight of angels to perceive and distinguish things the most minute. Their outer sight also corresponds to their inner sight, or to the understanding; for with angels the one sight flows into the other, so that they act as one; hence they have so great power of vision... But the rest of the senses with the angels are not so exquisite as the senses of seeing and of hearing, since seeing and hearing serve their intelligence and wisdom, but not the other senses, which if they were equally exquisite would take away the light and joy of their wisdom, and would bring in the enjoyment of pleasures of the various appetites and of the body, which obscure and weaken the understanding so far as they prevail—as is the case with men in the world, who are gross and stupid as to spiritual truths so far as they indulge the sense of taste and yield to the allurements of the sense of touch. [Heaven and Hell, Emanuel Swedenborg, ¶ 462]

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And yet another note: An earlier version of this general idea may be found here. Michelle, whose sense of thematics is very keen, will point out that I sometimes put posts in the wrong places—and that this one belongs on Borderzone. It is here because I like to keep the poems all on one site.

1 comment:

  1. That's a lovely poem but so melancholy too. The imagery is quite beautiful.

    Yes, I like having all of your poems here on the Ghulf Genes blog.

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