Walking between the old squatter cottages in The Jitties–in cold air and near dark, through mizzling rain–I hear a voice coming from a parked car. It’s American, intimate yet resonant, penetrating, conscious of an audience, and it’s reading from someone’s new novel, one of those clever first person deliveries designed to imply a listener in the text. There’s no driver in the car. There’s no one in the car at all. Its engine is running, it’s stopped at an angle at a corner in a billow of its own smoke. I walk past and go home thinking how much I’d like to win that Radio Four lottery and have my new book read that way, loudly but personably, to an empty lane at the end of November.
—M. John Harrison
are still here, but the sepulchre
is empty. A messenger
from the tomb tells us
how a stone has been rolled
from the mind, and a tree lightens
the darkness with its blossom.
There are travellers upon the road
who have heard music blown
from a bare bough, and a child
tells us how the accident
of last year, a machine stranded
beside the way for lack
of petrol, is crowned with flowers.
R. S. Thomas
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.
—"Seven Stanzas at Easter",
John Updike, 1960.
Phôs hilaròn hagías dóxēs, athanátou Patrós,
ouraníou, hagíou, mákaros, Iēsoû Christé,
elthóntes epì tḕn hēlíou dýsin, idóntes phôs hesperinón,
hymnoûmen Patéra, Hyión, kaì Hágion Pneûma, Theón.
Áxión se en pâsi kairoîs hymneîsthai phōnaîs aisíais,
Hyiè Theoû, zoḕn ho didoús, diò ho kósmos sè doxázei.
Where is it that we were together? Who were you that I lived with? Walked with?
The brother. The friend.
Darkness from light. Strife from love. Are they the workings of one mind? The features of the same face?
Oh, my soul, let me be in you now. Look out through my eyes. Look out at the things you made.
All things shining.
—The Thin Red Line, directed by Terrence Malick
Faith asks that we learn to live with mysteries, and not to wipe them away – for in wiping them away we may wipe away the face of the world.
—Roger Scruton, The Soul of the World