Saturday, March 26, 2016

Poem: Seven Stanzas at Easter by John Updike

Celebrating the real meaning of Easter.
Happy Easter, friends! The weekend has crept up on me unawares; and when it got here, it turned out to be Easter. It also happens to be a lot of other things worth celebrating: yesterday was March 25th, the old Festival of the Annunciation, also thought to be the original date of Good Friday; also the medieval New Year; also (because Tolkien liked to reference these things) the Fall of Sauron and the end of the Third Age.

Today, on a more sordidly materialistic note, is the 26th, which is also the one-year anniversary of the publication of Pendragon's Heir. To celebrate that, it's on sale on Kindle this week for just $0.99. Do avail yourselves of this opportunity if you haven't already :).

And because I have come to the end of this week so unprepared, and because it is Easter, this week I'd like to share a poem. This is 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.

6 comments:

Mac n' Janet said...

Wow, have never read this before, quite stirring.

Joseph J said...

Coincidentally I just came across that fact about Tolkien in this article. You might find interesting, as well as the poem it contains by John Donne "Upon the Annunciation and Passion Falling upon One Day"

http://aclerkofoxford.blogspot.ca/2016/03/this-doubtful-day-of-feast-or-fast-good.html?m=1

Nice job Mr. Updike on fitting amino acids and Max Planck into a religious poem.

Suzannah said...

Yes, I enjoyed this poem too :).

Joseph, thanks so much for the article! That is terrific--if I had realised there was special poetry for both Annunciation and Good Friday falling on the same day I would have used that as well.

JDDaley said...

Interesting read

Hamlette said...

This is one of my favorite poems!!!

Suzannah said...

It's beautiful, I agree!

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