Thursday, March 18, 2010


[Jacob] dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. [Genesis 28:12]

He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. [Psalms 91:11]

Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell. [Shakespeare, Macbeth IV, iii, 22]

The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple
As false dawn.
Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.
[Richard Purdy Wilbur, Love Calls Us to the Things of This World, 1956]

I looked over Jordan and what did I see? …
A band of angels coming after me,
Coming for to carry me home.
[Swing Low, Sweet Chariot]

“Pass in, pass in,” the angels say,
“In to the upper doors,
Nor count compartments of the floors,
But mount to paradise
By the stairway of surprise.”
[Ralph Waldo Emerson. Merlin I]

* * *

Angels are a fascinating and deep subject worth pondering. A post on the subject is in the making, but I thought I’d introduce it in this manner, touching on some views of angels over time in quotes. If you want to read a poem of mine about angels, with some appended paragraphs from Swedenborg, see this post on Ghulf Genes. I collect my poems on that site, although that poem, and an earlier companion to it, reachable here, belong in the context of the borderzone.

The painting is by Hieronymus Bosch, Ascent of the Blessed. Bosch (1450-1516), a Dutch painter, long predates any modern discussions of near-death experiences in many of which tunnels with a light at the end—and sometimes pairs of guides or helpers, and a luminous being present at arrival—became common enough to be abbreviated as NDEs.

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