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.