Sunday, April 12, 2009

Poetry 12: John Updike

Happy Easter! I love Easter, love the whole thought of it. Hope, springtime, renewal, re-birth, repentance, hope, hope!

I'm grateful to the people on AML-List (Linda Kimball, I think, was the one who mentioned it originally) who brought this poem to my attention. I'm not a fan of Updike's fiction, and I hadn't known he was a poet until someone shared this. You can read it in its entirety here.

from 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.

. . .
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.

. . .
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.

Rumor has it that Updike wrote this for an Easter poetry challenge at his church when he was just 21.

I have varying testimonies of many things, but I am sure, sure of an afterlife. I am so grateful for the Resurrection.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. It's beautiful, and was a welcome Easter treat.

(Help me out with the last word, though; I think I know what it means when someone remonstrates with someone else but I'm not sure, here, who's meant to be remonstrating with whom. Crushed by our own remonstrance with ourselves?)

Cheri said...

Thanks for posting this Darlene. I loved it so much I emailed it to Eric. He remembered really liking it. He says, in addition to the beauty of its crafting, it has an authentic voice of authority, a power inherent in the truth it presents.