Easter Sunday 2016: “Seven Stanzas at Easter” by John Updike

Happy Easter!
Thank you for reading and celebrating with me. Among the messages of Easter, one of my favorites is the idea that if the most impossible happened, hope stands.

In that vein, modern American author John Updike writes so boldly about the resurrection that one almost wonders if he’s being ironic. I find myself nearly doing double takes at his lines each time I go through them. But he insists in a raw realism about it to the end of the poem. “The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache…”
Enjoy.

Seven Stanzas at Easter
by John Updike

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.

garden tomb by upyernoz
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