Sunday, April 5, 2015

Seven Stanzas at Easter

Seven Stanzas at Easter by John Updike
(yes, that John Updike) (really)

Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell's dissolution did not reverse,
          the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths
          and fuddled eyes of the
Eleven apostles;
It was as His flesh; ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That - pierced - died, withered,
          paused and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable,
          a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages;
Let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality
          that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.

And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck's quanta,
          vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour,
          we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.


  1. Happy Easter, Craig. Have a joyous day with your family.

  2. Heavy stuff that. Hope you-all had a happy easter and found a bit of time for celebration and reflection.

    1. Strong, solid stuff (especially considering the source). Easter is all about the celebration; so long as you keep track of just what, exactly, it is that you're celebrating. . .

    2. True that! Without the Easter eggs life would be worthless ;-)

      We had the distinct pleasure of joining with some Presbyterians (my original church-of-parents) to celebrate and worship and reflect. A few hymns, very pertinent scripture, and an awe-inspiring sermon all capped off by congregational hallelujah chorus.

      I often wonder what the world thinks of this time of year when we're celebratory, thankful, yet mindful and mournful all at once. Ya know? Seems so normal to me but trying to describe the significance to a co-worker (from another culture) recently really kinda drilled things home. For me. I think he's now more confused ..... but at least he's still asking questions.

    3. Well, my wife and I have been known, on occasion, to appreciate some of the 'fertility' imagery associated with Easter. . . ;)

      I think the world-at-large mainly doesn't comprehend, I suppose, any more than I comprehend various Hindu/Muslim/your-religion-here observances and celebrations. Resurrection is not something for which any of us has any, uh, physical experience. . .

      Hence, my appreciation of the poem. . . ;)