Selected Poems

11 Radiant Poems On Angels We All Can Appreciate

Last Updated: January 10, 2023

If you’re a person with any spiritual beliefs, it’s not hard to believe in angels. It’s widely accepted that angels are pure spirits created by God, and they’re His messengers. The image of an angel brings us encouragement, a sense of protection, and most of all, hope.

There are countless poems written about angels, and today, we’re going to read some of them. Below is the list of 11 poems on angels that I think we all can appreciate.

1. The Angel in the House by Coventry Patmore

Thus ever answer’d Vaughan his Wife,
   Who, more than he, desired his fame;
But, in his heart, his thoughts were rife
   How for her sake to earn a name.

The Angel in the House by Coventry Patmore praises the qualities of a perfect woman in the Victorian era. The poem is allegedly based on Patmore’s late wife Emily, whom he saw as the ideal woman. The poem is frequently studied in part because it provides an honest, in-depth look into middle-class life in Victorian England.

The poem’s portrayal of women serves as an example of the Victorian theory of separate spheres. According to this theory, men and women are likely to excel in different segments of society or culture. Men were seen to be built for the public sphere, where it is suitable for them to leave the home for employment and civic duties, whereas women were thought to be given features of the private or domestic sphere, which typically involved tending to the house and children.

2. Questions About Angels by Billy Collins

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.

Collins’ Questions About Angels is a poem that contemplates the mysterious and often overlooked aspects of angels and their existence. The poem begins by stating that the only question people seem to ask about angels is how many of them can dance on the head of a pin, a question that was famously debated by medieval theologians. The rest of the poem then poses a series of questions about angels and their activities, suggesting that there is much more to these beings than just their ability to dance on a pin.

Overall, Questions About Angels is a thought-provoking and imaginative poem that invites readers to consider the mysteries and wonders of angels and their role in the world. With it, Collins tried to express a viewpoint on how religion is understood and how angels are viewed.

3. Touched By An Angel by Maya Angelou

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.

Love is main the subject of Maya Angelou’s poem Touched By An Angel. In popular poetry, this subject is not unusual. Love may have occasionally seemed to Maya Angelou to be a pretty erratic creature, possibly even an unreachable angel. She is known to have had two marriages, both of which ended in divorce. Although difficult to define or comprehend, love was presumably an important component of Angelou’s life; it would have evoked, as it does in the poem, recollections of both happiness and suffering.

In the end, the central premise of Touched By An Angel appears to be that while love is a challenging emotion to grasp and a challenge to locate, once it is, it is not a magical panacea for all of life’s issues. It does require effort and commitment to some degree. Her poetry writing here makes it extremely apparent and exquisite how she felt this love, that she felt like being touched by an angel.

4. Air and Angels by John Donne

As is ‘twixt air and angels’ purity,
‘Twixt women’s love, and men’s, will ever be.

John Donne’s poem Air and Angels describes a speaker’s search for his lover’s location. The speaker of the poem begins by explaining how he has been in love with the listener numerous times while never actually knowing her. His love exists independently of the individual it is intended for. The speaker likens love to angels’ angelic purity. Love exists in the world in a similar manner to how angels fly around us.

Among John Donne’s love poems, this one is considered to be particularly sophisticated. In order to make the case that both a physical foundation and reciprocity are necessary for the feeling of love, he uses imagery and ideas from metaphysics, navigation, and scholasticism. The notion of the difference between a man’s passion and a woman’s response is novel, as is the concept of adding ballast to the ship of love to ensure smooth sailing.

The poem comes to a rational and appropriate end when it is explained that love is an angel for men and air for women and that the harmony of the two is required for the concretization and fulfillment of love.

5. Paradise Lost by John Milton

OF Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit
Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast
Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,

The next work on the list is Paradise Lost, a classic written by John Milton. The poem rewrites the book of Genesis in poetic form, which chronicles the decline of Lucifer – the fallen angel and his allies. It also describes the origins of mankind and, most significantly, the repercussions of man’s disobedience, which caused us to lose paradise. Paradise Lost is a piece of literature that transcends the conventional bounds of literary storytelling.

In the opening lines of Paradise Lost, Milton explicitly declares the first instance of humankind’s disobedience toward God and the results that occurred from it. The offense is Adam and Eve’s eating of the Tree of Knowledge’s forbidding fruit. By using a wordplay of both the literal apple and the symbolic fruits of Adam and Eve’s acts, he refers to the result of their transgression as the “fruit” of the forbidden tree.

According to Milton, the original sin was what first caused death in humans. It’s the reason we lose our place in paradise until the return of Jesus to bring humanity back to its original state of purity.

6. Angel Or Demon by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

We are bound soul to soul by life’s holiest laws;
If I am an Angel—why, you are the cause.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s poem Angel Or Demon explores the idea that love has the power to transform a person into either an angel or a demon. The speaker addresses someone who has called them an angel, saying that they are only an angel because of the love they have received from the other person. The speaker suggests that if they had been treated poorly or unlovingly, they might have become a demon instead.

The speaker also suggests that all people have the potential for both good and evil within them, and it is love that determines which side is emphasized. The poem ends with the speaker emphasizing the importance of the other person’s worth in shaping the speaker’s own character. With Angel Or Demon, Wilcox highlights the transformative power of love and the importance of treating others with kindness and respect.

7. The Angel by William Blake

I dreamt a dream! What can it mean?
And that I was a maiden Queen
Guarded by an Angel mild:
Witless woe was ne’er beguiled!

In his poem The Angel, William Blake describes a speaker who is a “maiden Queen” being protected by an angel in her dream. Later, the angel flew away, leaving the speaker to be so upset that it made her more brittle. Time went on and as the speaker aged, she consequently ceased contemplating the kind angel. Later on, the angel returned, but it was too late for her to receive angelic guidance.

There are fundamental parallels among all religious beliefs, including the idea of having a guardian angel, which dates back thousands of years. Many religions around the world, from the Abrahamic religions such as Islam and Christianity to Sikhism and Zoroastrianism, have a concept of angels. There’s a mutual agreement that an angel is a supernatural, spiritual being tasked with carrying out the good command of the divine on Earth.

The Angel draws a sharp distinction between components of purity and impurity. In a sense, every one of us has our own personal angels, which take the form of beliefs from our youth that we no longer hold. Each of our beliefs gradually dissipates, to be replaced by a fact that grounded us in reality, until we can no longer be guided by an angel.

8. The Boy And the Angel by Robert Browning

MORNING, evening, noon, and night,
“Praise God!” sang Theocrite.

The poem The Boy and the Angel by Robert Browning tells the story of a boy named Theocrite who sings “Praise God” throughout the day as he works, and a monk named Blaise who observes him. Blaise tells Theocrite that the Pope in Rome is also praising God on Easter Day. Theocrite expresses a desire to praise God in the same way as the Pope and die.

Later, an angel named Gabriel appears in the form of a boy and takes Theocrite’s place, praising God in his stead. Gabriel grows up and eventually becomes an old man, and then a Pope in Rome. Theocrite also grows old and eventually dies. The poem ends with the suggestion that both Theocrite and Gabriel were praised by God in their own way, and that the cycle of life and death continues. With this, Browning explores themes of faith, devotion, and the cycle of life and death.

9. Angels, in the early morning by Emily Dickinson

Angels, in the early morning
May be seen the Dews among,
Stooping — plucking — smiling — flying —
Do the Buds to them belong?

Dickinson’s Angels, in the early morning is about how the guardian angels are constantly by our sides. In the opening lines, we see the Angels smilingly soaring with their tiny charges amid the morning dews. Maybe the kids needed a lift because they were in trouble. The Angels are happy to perform this task with a smile. That is because of the freshness of the day and the beauty and youth of the blooms.

In the second and final stanza, the Angels are still working during the hottest time of the day, and they are currently in the sand. There, the flowers struggle and get parched. This can be interpreted as a worsening of people’s life circumstances. They are not in a setting that will allow them to flourish, just like flowers when they are not receiving the nutritious water they require.

Despite that, the Angels continue to assist them by picking them up and supporting them. But this time, instead of smiling, they sigh. They are not at all enthusiastic about this job. This is just one interpretation of the poem, and there can be many more depending on how readers look at it.

10. On Angels by Czeslaw Milosz

All was taken away from you: white dresses,
wings, even existence.
Yet I believe you,

On Angles by Czeslaw Milosz challenges the “modern” worldview by addressing issues with angels and spiritual truths in general. Even though Milosz claims to believe in “messengers” or angels in the first lines, he also talks from a very contemporary perspective.

He first draws attention to the demythologizing process from the idea of angels in contemporary consciousness. Yet, he still boldly proclaims that he believes in them. In modern time, one simply does not believe in angels due to contemporary sensitivities, at least not openly among academics. In modern poetry, this can be read as astonishingly earnest, maybe even purposefully naive, while in earlier eras it would have been a simple declaration of belief.

Although Czeslaw Milosz is a contemporary poet writing for a contemporary audience, his inner stillness is not contemporary. The modern intellect is too frequently distracted by minor details. Nevertheless, a sense of peace, self-acceptance, wholeness, and even timelessness subtly permeates the entire poem. It just softly radiates.

11. Angels by Russell Edson

They have little use. They are best as objects of torment.
         No government cares what you do with them.

The poem Angels by Russell Edson is a dark and unsettling depiction of angels as creatures that are misunderstood and mistreated by humans. The poem suggests that angels are creatures that are not valued or respected by society and that they are often used as objects of abuse or torment. The line “No government cares what you do with them” implies that angels are not protected by laws or moral codes and that they can be mistreated with impunity.

The poem also touches on the theme of isolation and neglect, as the angels are described as crying out in a sound that is “like the screech of a tiny hinge” and “the cry of a bat,” both of which are associated with discomfort and unease. The last line, “No one hears it,” adds to the sense of isolation and loneliness that the poem evokes. With Angels, Edson quite masterfully portrays in the mystery and otherworldliness of the angelic realm.

Final thoughts

Angels are a captivating and enduring subject in literature, and there are many poems that explore their mystery and beauty. From traditional depictions of angels as celestial beings with wings to more modern and unconventional portrayals, these poems offer a wide range of perspectives on the role and nature of angels in our lives.

Whether you are a fan of classical poetry or more contemporary styles, there is something on this list for everyone to appreciate. So why not take a moment to reflect on the divine, and discover a new favorite poem about angels today?

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