Embarrassed by the Miracle

Seven Stanzas at Easter

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.

— John Updike

Telephone Poles and Other Poems © 1961


  1. This is fantastic–and new to me.

    Blessed Easter, guys (and gal).

  2. Jonathan Webb says

    Better than Updike in the reprinting.

  3. Churchill says

    I have to say that as I read it, I thought it was not up to your usual standard, pretentious, but it ends well.

  4. Jonathan Webb says

    Happy Easter to you and your family I.C.

Speak Your Mind