Again, the desire to write this poem was knocking around for a long long time. I adore the visionary artist and poet William Blake. In particular, I am fascinated by a celebrated episode in his childhood. I also knew I wanted to write a poem that ended with the words 'angels on Peckham Rye'. I just needed a way into it, and eventually I found it.
the boy looks up and sees a tree filled with angels,
bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars'
from 'The Life of William Blake' by Alexander Gilchrist
Oh, there've been hints, intimations.
Cumbrous rustlings in twigs. A silvery
glister that might have been
more substantial than moonlight.
I've noticed drifts of feathers falling
from viridian fan-vaulting,
heard gears creak
as flight machinery unfurls.
while I was out walking
I heard a lime at the roadside singing
It's a beautiful day.
OK, it wasn't the tree.
It wasn't an airy deity either
just dangling legs in scruffy jeans
and unlaced trainers.
I don't suppose
I'll ever witness an oak
list under a cargo
yet late autumn days
out on the Levels
mistletoed trees in orchards flutter
and as countless cacophonous voices fly
I might dream
an approximation of angels
on Peckham Rye.
© Deborah Harvey 2012, 2013