Monopod Angels

May choirs of angels sing you to your rest. But before you nod off, or keel over, try to take note how many among them are monopod angels. There will be angels of monosodium, and caustic soda, and pure cobalt, but the monopods are quite rare, and are not always welcome in angelic choirs. They have a tendency to screech. This may be because their pods, or feet, are almost invariably those of birds, such as the foot of a crow or an ostrich or a kittiwake. We do not like to think of angels shunning other angels, but alas it is true.

The monopods are unpopular for reasons other than their screeching in choir. It is thought that their hopping is ungainly and lacks angelic grace, and that in some way they are letting the side down. The obvious retort to this is that, as monopods, they have no other means of unassisted locomotion than to hop from place to place. “Then at least hop with elegance!” some mighty archangel might cry, dismissively.

More sympathetic angels, such as the majority of the monosodium ones, while nauseated by the hopping, have suggested that the monopods could get about in carts, and thus need hop not. The flaw in this angelic vision is that someone would have to pull the cart, and no angel, not even one both monosodium and cobalt, would demean themselves by doing so. The only angels likely to be keen to pull a monopod in a cart would be other monopods, a fact which makes a nonsense of the whole idea. Identical objections can be raised against the possibility of monopod angels being pushed about in barrows.

When in flight, monopod angels appear as graceful as their biped colleagues, but of course no angel can remain in the air constantly, with the exception of gossamer angels. Sooner or later the beating or fluttering of its wings exhausts even the fittest angel, and it must descend from the boundless firmament to rest on something solid, such as the branch of an oak tree in Peckham Rye. This was the landing place of a 1767-vintage angel, spotted by William Blake as he was out walking. It was not a monopod.


In this 1878 painting by William Bouguereau, we see just how elegant a monopod angel can appear when in flight. The lower, red-clad angel is the monopod, though unusually it does not have the taloned foot of a bird.

One thought on “Monopod Angels

  1. Bouguereau’s fanciful and romantic depiction of monopod angels is saccharine. Bouguereau’s monopod angels are muscular creatures of ethereal loveliness. Were it not for their missing leg, these angels would be (like Sarah Palin) runners up in beauty-pageants and graceful hippty-hoppers.

    Anybody confronted by a real monopod angel is immediatly overcome by a sense of unease, possibly because of it’s lack of arms, it’s birdlike wings and scaly single-leg with embedded, unblinking eye of doom. Who could fail to be disgusted by such a debased entity.

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