Denise Levertov

A Vision

‘The intellectual love of a thing is
the understanding of its perfections.’
Spinoza, quoted by Ezra Pound

Two angels among the throng of angels
paused in the upward abyss,
facing angel to angel.

Blue and green glowed the wingfeathers
of one angel, from red to gold the sheen
of the other’s. These two,

so far as angels may dispute, were poised
on the brink of dispute, brink of
fall from angelic stature.

for these tall ones, angels
whose wingspan encompasses entire
earthly villages, whose heads if their feet touched earth

would top pines or redwoods, live by their vision’s harmony
which sees at one glance
the dark and light of the moon.

These two hovered over dazed before one another,
for one saw the seafeathered, peacock breakered
crests of the other angel’s magnificence,
different from his own,

and the other’s eyes flickered with vision of
flame petallings, cream-gold grainfeather glitterings,
the wings of his fellow,
and both in immortal danger of dwindling, of dropping
into the remote forms of a lesser being.

But as these angels, the only halted ones
among the many who passed and repassed,
trod air as swimmers tread water, each gazing

on the angelic wings of the other,
the intelligence proper to great angels flew into their wings,
the intelligence called intellectual love, which,
understanding the perfections of scarlet,

leapt up among the blues and greens strongshafted,
and among amber down illumined the sapphire bloom,

so that each angel was iridescent with the strange newly-seen
hues he watched; and their discovering pause
and the speech their silent interchange of perfection was

never became a shrinking to opposites,

and they remained free in the heavenly chasm,
remained angels, but dreaming angels,
each imbued with the mysteries of the other.