Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Resurrection (John Updike, 1932-2009)

I read on Justin Taylor's blog that John Updike died today.

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.


-Seven Stanzas at Easter

3 comments:

The Pook said...

"Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence..."

I love that bit.

I didn't know Updike wrote anything like this.

Neil F said...

This is an amazing poem, Gordon, thanks for posting it! I am guessing, since I've not heard anything about it, that Updike was not a Christian. But I may well be wrong- any info? The sentiments of the poem are spot on, though!

Gordon Cheng said...

It is a great poem isn't it.

He was a high church Episcopalian, I believe, so who knows what that means. But what a wonderful confession of truth.