Wednesday, April 1, 2009

An Easter Poem

John Updike died recently. One of the truly great authors of our time, he left an outstanding legacy in literature. As we head into Easter week, I wanted to offer you a look at one of his lesser-known works, a short poem he wrote on the resurrection. Even if you're not a poetry afficianado, take a moment to read's powerful.

By 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 paper 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.

(from "Telephone Poles and Other Poems" by John Updike, 1961. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House.)

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