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Help locating a poem, please! Options
twinsonic
Posted: Tuesday, August 09, 2016 4:10:27 PM

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Joined: 9/18/2009
Posts: 356
Neurons: 1,315
I was referring to a poem yesterday, and my family didn't know what I was talking about. I went to find it, thinking I knew right where the scrap of paper was, and couldn't find it. I have tried online, with no success, so hopefully someone here recognizes it from what I remember.

It's quite short.
It is concrete (I cut it out, and it was triangular), but that may not be the point. Speaking of points, that is part of the end line, that bleeding for us has always been the point of angels.
It refers to "how many angels dance on the head of a pin," and the angels in the poem are climbing up and down the pin, and of course, an infinite number can do so.
It mentions the fact that in academia the only way to "fit another in" is if one dies.

Ring any bells?

Thanks in advance!

kdabber
Posted: Tuesday, August 09, 2016 6:04:42 PM

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Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
The poem is by Billy Collins



Questions About Angels


Of all the questions you might want to ask
about angels, the only one you ever hear
is how many can dance on the head of a pin.

No curiosity about how they pass the eternal time
besides circling the Throne chanting in Latin
or delivering a crust of bread to a hermit on earth
or guiding a boy and girl across a rickety wooden bridge.

Do they fly through God's body and come out singing?
Do they swing like children from the hinges
of the spirit world saying their names backwards and forwards?
Do they sit alone in little gardens changing colors?

What about their sleeping habits, the fabric of their robes,
their diet of unfiltered divine light?
What goes on inside their luminous heads? Is there a wall
these tall presences can look over and see hell?

If an angel fell off a cloud, would he leave a hole
in a river and would the hole float along endlessly
filled with the silent letters of every angelic word?

If an angel delivered the mail, would he arrive
in a blinding rush of wings or would he just assume
the appearance of the regular mailman and
whistle up the driveway reading the postcards?

No, the medieval theologians control the court.
The only question you ever hear is about
the little dance floor on the head of a pin
where halos are meant to converge and drift invisibly.

It is designed to make us think in millions,
billions, to make us run out of numbers and collapse
into infinity, but perhaps the answer is simply one:
one female angel dancing alone in her stocking feet,
a small jazz combo working in the background.

She sways like a branch in the wind, her beautiful
eyes closed, and the tall thin bassist leans over
to glance at his watch because she has been dancing
forever, and now it is very late, even for musicians.





Illegitimi Non Carborundum
twinsonic
Posted: Tuesday, August 09, 2016 7:09:39 PM

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Joined: 9/18/2009
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Thank you for your response, but that isn't the poem. The one I am thinking of is much, much shorter.
Shulamit
Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2016 12:03:48 AM

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But that's a very good poem, i'nt it!

Can you recall if the poem was contemporary? Is it in translation? Do you remember where you read it? Where were you when you read or heard it?

Hmmm. I'm beginning to sound like I did when quizzing my kids about something they misplaced.

I'm very curious to find out about this mystery poem.

Variety is the spice of life. Lack of variety is the spouse of life.
twinsonic
Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2016 1:25:02 AM

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Joined: 9/18/2009
Posts: 356
Neurons: 1,315
Shulamit wrote:
But that's a very good poem, i'nt it!

Can you recall if the poem was contemporary? Is it in translation? Do you remember where you read it? Where were you when you read or heard it?

Hmmm. I'm beginning to sound like I did when quizzing my kids about something they misplaced.

I'm very curious to find out about this mystery poem.


I believe it is contemporary. I am not sure where I first read it, but it must have been online. I printed it out, cut out the shape, and taped it to my refrigerator. It wasn't a unknown author, it would have been from a poetry site. I was homeschooling my children at the time, and we did a lot of poetry units, especially around the time of Nation Poetry Month.

I believe the angels were climbing up and down the pin, to dance on the head, and I think it mentions they are in bare feet, and therefore bleeding for us, "which was always the point," or something like that. Definite about the academics, although the poet may not have used that word. That the only way "to fit more in" was if one died.

It is very short, maybe only 10-12 lines, if that.
twinsonic
Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2016 2:10:04 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/18/2009
Posts: 356
Neurons: 1,315
I FOUND IT! It's supposed to be a bit of an inverted triangle, but when I previewed it that way, it formatted it back to the margins. It was from Poetry Daily, http://poems.com/


By Thom Satterlee

The Private Meditations of John Wyclif: On Angels


By now no one cares how many would fit on the head of a pin
They can always make themselves smaller, or the pin bigger,
and being infinite they have all infinity to play scholastic
games. Meanwhile, they watch us in our lecture hall
and see that our only way to fit another scholar in
is by one of us dying. To this the angels have
only pity. They turn the pin on its head,
and then as many angels as the last
scholar has conjectured climb
up the side. They reach
the tip and dance in
bare feet to bleed
for us. This,
we see,
was al-
ways
the
po-
in
t.


twinsonic
Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2016 2:15:14 AM

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It's from Thom Satterlee's poetry collection, Burning Wyclif.
pitulush
Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2016 5:40:23 AM

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Location: Bucharest, Bucuresti, Romania
Applause Glad you've found it! I was curious to read it but no amount of googling helped! It's not bad ;)
MelissaMe
Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2016 11:08:20 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/10/2014
Posts: 5,366
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Location: Gualala, California, United States
What a great poem, kdabber! Applause



This is my only now.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Friday, August 12, 2016 7:50:49 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 26,856
Neurons: 146,496
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom


Just for you:

By Thom Satterlee

The Private Meditations of John Wyclif: On Angels


By now no one cares how many would fit on the head of a pin
They can always make themselves smaller, or the pin bigger,
and being infinite they have all infinity to play scholastic
games. Meanwhile, they watch us in our lecture hall
and see that our only way to fit another scholar in
is by one of us dying. To this the angels have
only pity. They turn the pin on its head,
and then as many angels as the last
scholar has conjectured climb
up the side. They reach
the tip and dance in
bare feet to bleed
for us. This,
we see,
was al-
ways
the
po-
in
t.




Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
twinsonic
Posted: Sunday, August 28, 2016 11:46:51 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/18/2009
Posts: 356
Neurons: 1,315
Drag0nspeaker wrote:


Just for you:

By Thom Satterlee

The Private Meditations of John Wyclif: On Angels


By now no one cares how many would fit on the head of a pin
They can always make themselves smaller, or the pin bigger,
and being infinite they have all infinity to play scholastic
games. Meanwhile, they watch us in our lecture hall
and see that our only way to fit another scholar in
is by one of us dying. To this the angels have
only pity. They turn the pin on its head,
and then as many angels as the last
scholar has conjectured climb
up the side. They reach
the tip and dance in
bare feet to bleed
for us. This,
we see,
was al-
ways
the
po-
in
t.




Thank you!
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