Seven Stanzas at Easter, John Updike

To celebrate National Poetry Month I will be posting a few of our favorite poems from our Commonplace Books.

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Seven Stanzas at Easter

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, decayed, and then
regathered out of His Father’s 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 each of us the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weight 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.

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