Posted by: rusch | September 2, 2007

John Updike and my favorite new poem

I heard this poem a couple of weeks ago. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do.


Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule 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 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.


  1. I love this poem. Did you read Kristine Haglund’s Holy Week Series on By Common Consent last spring? Day after day of excellent uplifting poems and music.

    Here is my new favorite poem, from Edgar Lee Masters “Spoon River Anthology”

    William Goode

    To all in the village I seemed, no doubt,
    To go this way and that way, aimlessly. .
    But here by the river you can see at twilight
    The soft–winged bats fly zig-zag here and there–
    They must fly so to catch their food.
    And if you have ever lost your way at night,
    In the deep wood near Miller’s Ford,
    And dodged this way and now that,
    Wherever the light of the Milky Way shone through,
    Trying to find the path,
    You should understand I sought the way
    With earnest zeal, and all my wanderings
    Were wanderings in the quest.

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