Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday

Again, war themes seem to appear frequently in Easter poems. The most famous, perhaps, is Yeats' Easter 1916 about the Easter uprising in Ireland. Here is another, referring to a more modern oppressed state, by American poet Charles Martin.

Easter Sunday, 1985

To take steps toward the reappearance alive of the disappeared is a subversive act,
and measures will be adopted to deal with it.
—General Oscar Mejia Victores,
President of Guatemala

In the Palace of the President this morning,
The General is gripped by the suspicion
That those who were disappeared will be returning
In a subversive act of resurrection.

Why do you worry? The disappeared can never
Be brought back from wherever they were taken;
The age of miracles is gone forever;
These are not sleeping, nor will they awaken.

And if some tell you Christ once reappeared
Alive, one Easter morning, that he was seen—
Give them the lie, for who today can find him?

He is perhaps with those who were disappeared,
Broken and killed, flung into some ravine
With his arms safely wired up behind him.

Charles Martin


  1. I suppose I can see why battles would be considered a good subject for Easter. People want victory. And of course Easter Sunday was supposed to be the greatest victory of all -- over death.

    Or maybe they contrast the state of their own battles with how things were supposed to change, if the Easter story was really true -- but haven't.

    So it's kind of a mixed bag, producing mixed feelings, isn't it?

  2. This is a terribly, terribly sad poem. What despair. The grim opposite of Easter. A very powerful piece.

  3. Phyl - good point, it's the juxtaposition of what Easter is supposed to represent and one's current situation. Ripe for art.

    Jenny - I found it shocking but really powerful.


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