Bonfire burning at night

Dark Angels Note 122

Dearest Friends

Welcome back to our weekly Friday Note.



This week, we remember, remember the 5th of November. But more specifically, we take a look at where the famous poem may originally have come from.

First in Latin, In Quintum Novembris was written by a 17-year-old John Milton in Cambridge in 1626. The poem commemorated Guy Fawkes’ failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

On the anniversary of the event, it was usual for students to write poems. In Milton’s version, he explores themes that would inform his later work, Paradise Lost.

Many variations of the poem that is synonymous with Bonfire Night exist, all starting with the famous opening line: “Remember, remember the fifth of November…”



No one, not even Shakespeare, surpasses Milton in his command of the sound, the music, the weight and taste and texture of English words” – Philip Pullman

Read: Why you should re-read Paradise Lost.



John Simmons used the following quotation from John Milton’s Paradise Lost as the epigraph to Dark Angels when the book first came out in 2004.


“what in me is dark

Illumine, what is low raise and support”


“Paradise Lost was one influence on my choice of book title, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials was another. Although they are both peopled by supernatural characters, they are both actually about human beings. And that is what I meant by Dark Angels – not the heavenly kind, not the infernal kind, but the ones who live here on earth – human beings who all have the gift of creativity and storytelling, if they choose to use it.” – John Simmons


Milton has probably been plundered for book titles more than any other writer except Shakespeare – for example ‘Look Homeward Angel’, ‘Eyeless in Gaza’ and ‘Darkness Visible’. What makes titles like these so appealing? Take a favourite book and focus on a few pages. Which words or phrases would make good titles for novels? Now take one and write the first few lines of the novel under that title.



We Are Nature

We’re continuing to share some of the work written during our time in Aracena on the We Are Nature experience. This week, Alix Mulholland’s Hands.


Let’s make soup, I say
Ok, she says
Her voice is flat.
Her jaw is slack.
I wipe egg off her jumper.
I’ll get another day out of that, she says.

I switch off the TV
Open the curtains wide
Light floods the room

In the kitchen I chop and slice
She watches silently
Use that knife. It’s good and sharp. She says

Onions, carrots, celery.
That’s right. Chop them nice and small.
You’d never believe the people never learned to chop an onion properly, she says.

You’ve the same hands as me, she says.
They’re good workers hands.

I hand her a wooden spoon
She holds it in the good hand
The onions spit
She stirs them gently.

The bad hand hangs limp
She lifts it with the good hand
Tucks it by her side
It falls again
Hangs heavy.

I lift it this time
In my hand
I tuck it gently by her side

The Aga belches in the warm kitchen
Sunshine streams through the hatch
There’s vase of yellow roses, ladies mantle on the kitchen table
I don’t know who picked them.

I flick the radio on.
Do you know this one? It’s Van Morrison, I say
Yes, she says

She knows the words. She sings
These are the Days of the Endless Summer.
Her voice is flat. Tuneless
The vocal muscles on the bad side paralysed too.

I wish I could still sing, she says.
I wasn’t a bad singer you know.

You’re not that bad, I lie
She laughs. I laugh
We sing together

These are the days of the endless summer
These are the days, the time is now
There is no past, there’s only future
There’s only here, there’s only now

I imagine my hands as a baby
Small fists; warm and tight.
I imagine her with two good hands
The first to touch mine.

These are the days now that we must savour
And we must enjoy as we can
These are the days that will last forever
You’ve got to hold them in your heart

That’s good soup we’ve made,
She smiles.


Alix Mulholland
Aracena Spain
September 2022


Keep sending us your poems, writings, links and writerly whatnots that you’d like to share with the wider Dark Angels family.



26 Wordstock 2022

Don’t miss 26 Wordstock 2022, happening in London on Saturday 12th November. A great day to meet other writers, hear inspiring authors, join in workshops. Lots of Dark Angels will be there too. Find out more here, Don’t miss Wordstock 2022.


Weekly Tuesday Gatherings

For November, we have a few adjustments to the schedule for the weekly gatherings.

Nov 8: no gathering
Nov 15: 7pm as normal
Nov 22: no gathering
Nov 29: 7pm as normal

Join us for a reflective hour of reading, writing and communing led by Neil Baker. Everyone is welcome; in fact, invite a friend along. We meet at 7pm UK time. To join us, click here on the night. There’s no need to register in advance and we’ll be using the same link every week from now on.


Be well, keep reading, keep writing and know that we’re always here..

From everyone at Dark Angels



Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash