Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,
Some are in smocks; but truly they are there.
- The angels are dressed in different things: blouses, sheets, and smocks. They're not exactly ready for a night on the town.
- But whatever they're wearing doesn't seem to matter much. The point is that they're there. The speaker swears—they exist.
- Maybe he's worried folks will think he's crazy. Or maybe it's because, to the average person, these angels probably look like nothing but laundry, blowing in the morning breeze.
- Why's that? Well, what else would you find clothes-pinned to a laundry line but bed-sheets, blouses, and smocks?
Now they are rising together in calm swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;
- The angels are being lifted up by little gusts, which the speaker says fill what they're wearing (the blouses, sheets, etc.) with a halcyon feeling—or a feeling of joy, goodness, and peacefulness.
- If you want to go with the laundry-on-the-line image, picture it blowing gently, then being lifted by the breeze.
- It's practically dancing on the line.
- The "impersonal breathing" of line 11 makes us think of the soul outside the body and the "false dawn." All these idyllic things are going on without the presence of humans.
- But it's joyful nonetheless.
- There is also something organized or choreographed about the image. They're all rising up at the same time, which makes sense if you think of clothing pinned to a line.
- They'd all have to move together with every breeze.