Since biblical times, people have looked to angels as sources of comfort, inspiration, protection, and solace. Yet very little is said in the Bible about what angels actually are; the Bible focuses mainly on their deeds, and leaves their nature to the imagination. Consequently, few people really understand them, and the very notion of angels is a rather open-ended idea subject to personal interpretation and design. Poets, never ones to let a chance at interpretation go by, have written about angels, using them as both subject and metaphor. Two poems of note where angels are used as metaphors are "Annunciation", by Kay Smith and "Black Rook in Rainy Weather", by Sylvia Plath. In these poems, angels are referenced not for their own sake, but rather for the metaphorical meanings which the reader may glean from them. In "Annunciation", Smith uses an angel to represent greatness left pursued yet unattained a life, while Plath uses angels to represent unusual occurences which brighten or add meaning to an otherwise dreary life.
"Annunciation" begins with a note about the standard artistic depiction of the Annunciation, in which the angel Gabriel appears to the Virgin Mary to declare that she will be the Mother of God. Smith notes that in paintings of the event, Mary is always reading a book; she seems trying to keep her place in the book, despite the arrival and great presence of Gabriel. In the poem, Smith herself paints a portrait of a young girl at a crossroads: two girls at a museum in Italy on some sort of trip. "We two sometimes women" (line 20) implies that the girls are fairly young, but since they seem to be alone together they have likel...
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...vene in the lives of the faithful in times of trial. Plath uses angels as a metaphor for strength and hope in a time of darkness.
Angels are so commonly felt but poorly understood that it is possible to attach many different meanings to them. In poetry, angels can represent a spectrum of ideas and feelings, from awe to hope to strength to fear, just to list a few examples. In "Annunciation", Kay Smith uses the majesty and biblical significance of the angel Gabriel to represent a feeling of greatness and destiny that the speaker let slip through her grasp. In "Black Rook in Rainy Weather", Sylvia Plath uses angels to symbolize the brightness and hope that make an otherwise bleak and dreary life livable. Clearly, angels, like our lives themselves, can have whatever meaning we choose endow upon them.
"In the arms of the angels, may you find some comfort here."
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