Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Way Into Easter

Seven Stanzas at Easter
~ John Updike

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
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-mâché, 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 will 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.


I had forgotten about this poem but, in a year in which bodies and death have overtaken my thoughts and Easter has been difficult indeed, I am glad to have found it again, along with a little bit of commentary, here.


mompriest said...

thank you, I appreciate this...It reminds me a bit of the poem by Symeon the New Theologian..."we awaken as Christ's body"...

anyway, yes a year of body, and death, and seeking new life - very true for me too, only in a different context than yours..

Daisy said...

Wow. Great poem. Wow.

Thanks for contributing to my edumacation, GG. You're giving me some great authors to check out.


Stushie said...

Beautiful - a lyrical reminder of what we should believe and not cast aside as some sadly do.

Michelle said...

I used this poem twice over the Triduum -- once for Holy Thursday, once for an Easter week reflection!

I love the lines about the amino acids (of course) and the "fuddled eyes" we all have!

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

That's a great poem. Thank you for posting it.

Debbi said...

Thanks from me, too, and for the link. The rookie priest's comments on Updike were fascinating. You keep leading me into corners of my mind/soul and then you lead me into corners of the internet that lead me further. You have become one of my priests.