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, 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 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.

Telephone Poles and Other Poems © 1961 by John Updike.

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4 comments so far

  1. Dave Reimer on

    Thank you so much for reminding us of the Updike poem. I had seen it some months ago somewhere and had been moved by it. It was refreshing to see it again and be reminded.

  2. jeffreimer on

    Thanks and you’re welcome! I think I’ve posted this on my blog every Easter for the last several years.

  3. Shannon on

    I read this poem when you posted it and was intrigued by it. Then yesterday in CTC Loren opened class with it and I thought how cool I was because I had just read this…so thanks for helping me feel cool at Regent. :) And I still enjoy the poem.

  4. Matt Jones on

    Copy cat! ;)

    Good stuff, brings back memories of Regent.


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