Monday, October 22, 2007

Some Angry Angel

Some angry angel,

Bleared by Bach and too inbred,
Crept out of bed, pulled on a sock,
And glancing downwards threw a rock,
Which struck an earthbound peacock’s head.
The peacock fell.
The peacock’s yell, outraged by such treason,
Demanded to know why it
Out of millions should be hit,
And instantly invented a reason.

This is one of a very few poems that I can quote by heart and write down without resorting to the original text. When I first read it, as a late teenager, it seemed to me perfect. It used memorable imagery to express the randomness of fortune, and I loved the internal rhythms and rhymes.

The poem was used by writer Richard Condon as an epigraph to his novel ‘Some Angry Angel’. It apparently came from a mysterious collection of poems known as ‘The Keener’s Manual’.

I doubt that many people will be familiar with Condon’s name, although several of his books have been adapted and made into well known films, including ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ and ‘Prizzi’s Honor’.

What’s weird is that there is no ‘Keener’s Manual’. It’s an invention of Condon’s. He wrote the poem ‘Some Angry Angel’ himself.

I learn this on a weekend where the English peacock seems to have suffered a veritable plague of angry angels. In two days we’ve managed to lose the rugby, the Formula 1, and the snooker. For many invented reasons.


Marlene said...

This, too, is one of my favorite poems and I loved the book which I read when I was older than you.

I seem to remember the poem as starting:

Some angry angel,
ill at ease and too inbred,
Climbed out of bed . . .

Every word that followed was the same.

Do you know if the poem was changed? Maybe for US readers?

Someone established a website for me in an attempt to get me to blog. Which I might do if I ever learn how.

If you want to know what the blog will concern, please email me at, of course, you are not interested in recent US political history.


Steve Augarde said...

Thanks, Marlene. A quick glance at the original text confirms that 'Bleared by Bach...' was the beginning of the second line, although I'd misremembered 'Climbed' as 'Crept'.

Condon was American, of course, so I doubt that the poem was altered for US readers. a commitment, and your post reminds me that I haven't added to mine in weeks. Must do soemthing about that. Soon.

Marlene said...

I had forgotten the second line entirely. Thanks for the help. I'll be sure to incorporate that line in my memory bank.

Could you correct the poem on your website or send it to me in its' correct form? If I decide to blog, I want to make sure the poem is correct.

Believe me, Richard Condon would have loved my story since it is the story of someone else who also took on those who abuse power.

With success, too.

Thanks for any help you may give me.


Steve Augarde said...

Now corrected!

Marlene said...

Thank you.