Sunday, February 28, 2010


The following, imperfectly remembered, is the poem that appeared in my English "A" Level exam paper in 1987, in my favourite part of the exam: the "unseen poem". In past papers, it had been a 16th century or Romantic poet; so I was delighted to find something as contemporary as this and committed it to memory there and then during the exam. I sat my exam alone, at formidable Miss Kiniger's austere Marchmont house, being the only person in my year taking English "A" Level - this had meant the rare luxury of one-to-one tutoring. I have never seen the poem since, nor have I been able to find it on the internet, so this is all I have of it. Miss Kiniger brought me a cup of strong sweet tea.

A lacy mobile changing lazily
Its animals, unstable faces, until
I imagine an angel, its vapours trailing
Asleep at different speeds. My failing:
To see images, clouds as something other.

Are all inspirations correspondences?
I want to be theological, stare through
Raw white angel fabric at holy bits of blue.

And truly, if one shining angel existed
What better than the camouflage of a cloud?
Machinery of cloud and angel, both are silent
Both insubstantial. Neither violent.

Let sunlight fade on walls and a huge blind
Be drawn faster than a horse across this field.
There's deranged wind up there. God, its power!
Let me believe in angels for an hour.

An angel drifts to the east, its edges burning;
Sunny sunlight on stony stone returning.

Al Alvarez


Jacquelyn said...

awesome poem! Thanks for sharing!

PJ Miller said...

Why didn't you do HIGHERS like Clare Grogan?

I quite like Alv Alv Alvarez, the Alvin Stardust of literarture.

LottieP said...

Ah! I did do Highers, but I did A Levels as well. I was greedy like that.