Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Power and the Glory

"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-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.

Related reads - "How the Mass is a sacrifice, and why so many deny this doctrine" from The New Theological Movement and "The Eucharistic Theology of Early Church Fathers" at The Sacred Page.


  1. Beautiful! I was thinking about this last night. I think it says something about our own deaths and life everlasting...the Apostles' Creed! I love this poem. Thank you.

  2. I hope you had a wonderful Easter week, my friend.

  3. Ah, Julie! Keep throwing that poetry at me, I'm digging it!

  4. This is awesome!!! Also it reminds me of my class with Dr Sundahl ("the owl of minerva: post-modernism and the new religious humanists"). Karen was entertained when I told her about our nickname, by the way.

  5. Perfectly true and, thus, perfectly lovely.