Use Of Angels In Smith’s Annunciation And Plath’s Black Rook In Rainy Weather

1214 words - 5 pages

Use of Angels in Smith’s Annunciation and Plath’s Black Rook in Rainy Weather  

Since biblical times, people have looked to angels as sources of comfort, inspiration, protection, and solace. Yet very little is said in the Bible about what angels actually are; the Bible focuses mainly on their deeds, and leaves their nature to the imagination. Consequently, few people really understand them, and the very notion of angels is a rather open-ended idea subject to personal interpretation and design. Poets, never ones to let a chance at interpretation go by, have written about angels, using them as both subject and metaphor. Two poems of note where angels are used as metaphors are "Annunciation", by Kay Smith and "Black Rook in Rainy Weather", by Sylvia Plath. In these poems, angels are referenced not for their own sake, but rather for the metaphorical meanings which the reader may glean from them. In "Annunciation", Smith uses an angel to represent greatness left pursued yet unattained a life, while Plath uses angels to represent unusual occurences which brighten or add meaning to an otherwise dreary life.

"Annunciation" begins with a note about the standard artistic depiction of the Annunciation, in which the angel Gabriel appears to the Virgin Mary to declare that she will be the Mother of God. Smith notes that in paintings of the event, Mary is always reading a book; she seems trying to keep her place in the book, despite the arrival and great presence of Gabriel. In the poem, Smith herself paints a portrait of a young girl at a crossroads: two girls at a museum in Italy on some sort of trip. "We two sometimes women" (line 20) implies that the girls are fairly young, but since they seem to be alone together they have likely just graduated high school and have gone on the quintessential "coming of age" trip to Europe. "Unobliged to wings or words" (line 23) implies that the girls are in a state of youthful freedom; here, "wings" makes reference to the greatness of the angel (lines 10-13) and the destiny he foretold (the "higher mission" from line 5), while "words" refers back to the book and studiousness of Mary (lines 2-8). The girls "laughed at the vibrant space between the two" (lines 24-25), as if their youthful exuberance made the rest of the world seem unimportant. Given the ages of the girls, "words" and all of the references to books likely refer to college or higher academic pursuits, while "wings" represents notoriety, destiny, or greatness of some other sort. The speaker is content to live in the now, without worrying about college or "hitting it big"; she is simply waiting for her own personal angel to make an annunciation to her of what her destiny holds, rather than going out and seizing her future by the throat. This carelessness is further emphasized in line 26, when the girls are laughing in "the angled focus of the Virgin’s eye". The Virgin Mary had a focus- she knew from the moment of the Annunciation what she had to do...

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