Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pascha

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.

- John Updike, "Seven Stanzas at Easter"

2 comments:

stanford said...

I really owe you thanks for turning me on to Updike. He's fantastic. I am going to 'borrow' this poem for a talk I have to give in a coupl weeks. Thanks X2.

Michial said...

No problem--I'm glad you're into him. I am well aware why the Christian community has been somewhat resistant to his work, but I think "Seven Stanzas" demonstrates nicely that, contra the criticism, he's not without things to say, and he's not without a serious theological conscience.