Stairway to Heaven: A Meditation on the angels of Bath Abbey

As usual, I am trying to write lyrics and, as usual, am getting deflected into a poem. It is good to be writing again; I have stopped adding to the blog for a long time, depressed by the impossibility of getting any children’s poems published; and depressed by the gloominess of my own thoughts in the dawn of this trumpery age.

Stairway to Heaven

Up they go, the virtuous angels,
Lifting their faces to heaven as they climb
and up
and up,
sure of their welcome,
strong in their goodness,
eager to greet their Lord.

Some of them look down.
Why look down?
Are they worried about the ones who struggle up the ladder behind them?
Do they miss the warm familiarity of human sin?
Are they afraid of heights?

Many of us are afraid of heights.

It isn’t easy, clambering up that ladder,
impeded by long skirts and folded wings.
The effort is carved into their anxious faces,
their clutching hands.

Why don’t they fly?
Is it a test of their virtue, that they have to climb?

Not all of them make it.

Down they fall, the other angels,
in a crumple of masonry,
necks at a broken angle,

Was it just one unfortunate slip?
One dive-bombing pigeon?
One opportunistic imp tugging at an unwary ankle?
Or have they tumbled all the way down from Heaven,
through clouds of infamy,
lightning bolts of fury,
stinking of hatred and greed and evil,
Damned from the start?

Some are headless;
Did they go the way of Waller’s nose,
shot off by the troops quartered in the Abbey?

Not the first to lose their heads over a soldier.

Very human, those angels.

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