Here is the second poem in my sonnet sequence from After Prayer, reflecting on Herbert’s poem Prayer. This one on the mysterious phrase ‘Angels Age’. Scholars are divided as to what Herbert may have meant by this, but it seems he was suggesting that when we pray we are in some sense lifted out of our own ‘age’ or ‘seculum’, the time of our earthly pilgrimage, and participate, if only for a moment in the ‘angels age’, lifted from our earthly life to their heavenly life, given for a moment a glimpse of the heavenly perspective. Or perhaps it is the other way round: when we pray the angels join with us and give their wings to our prayers. My sonnet in response to Herbert’s phrase, plays with these different possibilities.
The image that follows the poem is Dore’s illustration of the eternal circle of the angels praising God, from his Illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy.
After Prayer is available now for Pre-order on Amazon and from the Canterbury Press Website and you are very welcome to come to one of the November launch events and readings, all listed on my ‘Events and Gigs’ page which you can access on the tab above this page. You may also be interested in reading an interview about the new book from Lancia Smith’s excellent Cultivating Project. You can read the interview Here.
As always, you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button.
How might my prayer partake the angels’ age?
Theirs is no age at all, but all in one;
My moments pass, as steps in pilgrimage,
But they begin where my dark journey’s done.
They see all things at once: each point in time
For them is radiant with eternity.
Mine are the twists and turns, the long road home,
Theirs is the over-view, and flying free
They brush me with their feathers, with the rumour
Of their flight, and something in me sings
Into their passing light, till my prayer-murmur,
Circled in the slipstream of their wings,
Is lifted up in grace to join with theirs,
Who sing a Sanctus into all our prayers.
8 responses to “Lent with Herbert Day 2: Angel’s Age”
I love your work so much – it touches my heart and soul and assures me I am not alone in the way I sense everything.
Met you when you came to Exeter Cathedral.
Thanks Mary, I’m so glad you’re finding these poems helpful
lovely images & phraseology
Such a beautifully moving image, Malcolm, nicely complemented with the Dore. Thank you.
This phrase did rather defeat me! Interesting contemplation. I wondered in Revelation 8: 3-4 were relevant.
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