'Easter 1991' by Debora Greger
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All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
Something has rolled from its cave
and under the fence
of the Botanic Garden, onto the sidewalk:
a handful of thorns,
their hour come and gone, a hedgehog half-risen,
dead leaves cast off—
see the place where it lay in the underbrush,
a sleepy grenade?
Now it drowses in the open, back from the dead
of English winter,
stunned by the dizzying half-warm sun.
The stone rolled away.
Two men all in white stood by the tomb—
if I've seen them,
I haven't known them for what they were,
young men from the next island
passing for young men here, the gray ones
down on their luck, perhaps,
who've eked enough for a pint and a game
of darts at the local pub.
Somewhere, in a potting shed, something waits
to be transformed utterly—
bags of fertilizer, lengths of pipe—
into a homemade bomb.
A briefcase left at the railway station,
a pane of glass
sent flying by the blast, a shattered rain
on the chosen "soft target"—
this is the beauty of terror, the glass
in the midst of all
the terrorist knows, who calls the radio station
from Her Majesty's pay phone.
Minute by minute a timer ticks
for ambushed husband,
gun-running priest. Why do you seek the living
among the dead? Come see
the place where he lay, then go quickly.
Do not be terrified.
Rough beast that bristled at the suggestion
that it move—
for its thorns we cast lots.
It played dead,
rolled into a ball you rolled under the fence
back into winter,
your palm pierced for your trouble.
We have bowed
at its feet, the leathery dark
of the dead.
We could not number all its spines.
Submitted by C. Dale Young
Editor 1 Interpretation
Easter 1991: A Masterpiece of Poetic Imagery and Symbolism
Debora Greger's Easter 1991 is a stunning poem that invites the reader to engage with its rich imagery and symbolism. The poem explores the themes of resurrection, transformation, and the cycle of life and death. Through her masterful use of language, Greger takes us on a journey of self-discovery and renewal, inviting us to contemplate the mysteries of the universe and our place in it.
At its core, Easter 1991 is a deeply spiritual poem that draws on Christian symbolism to explore the themes of rebirth and renewal. The poem opens with the line "Today, the white hyacinths have opened," a clear reference to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The white flowers symbolize purity and innocence, and their opening represents the dawn of a new era, a rebirth after the darkness of winter.
Greger's use of imagery is particularly striking in this poem. She paints vivid pictures with her words, transporting us to a world of beauty and wonder. The description of the hyacinths, for example, is particularly evocative: "Stiff as paper, the petals / unfold like birds escaping the cage / of a square white vase." Here, the flowers are not simply objects, but living creatures, imprisoned in a vase until they are set free by the act of opening.
As the poem progresses, Greger explores the theme of transformation, both physical and spiritual. She describes how the "caterpillars that crawled / on these leaves last fall / have become butterflies, / orange and black," a beautiful metaphor for the process of metamorphosis. The caterpillar, once a humble and unremarkable creature, has been transformed into a thing of beauty and grace.
But the transformation in this poem is not just physical; it is also spiritual. Greger uses the butterfly as a symbol of the soul, which, like the caterpillar, must undergo a process of transformation before it can achieve its true potential. She writes: "I believe in the resurrection of the body / and the life everlasting, / though lately I've been thinking / of what we carry with us / that dies a little each day."
Here, Greger is questioning the idea of an afterlife, suggesting that our true life is the one we live on earth, and that this life is made up of the experiences and memories we carry with us. The "little deaths" that we experience each day are a reminder that we are constantly changing, constantly transforming, and that the true nature of our existence is a mystery that we can never fully understand.
The poem ends with a powerful image of the sun rising over the horizon, a symbol of hope and renewal. Greger writes: "And the sun, that has always risen, / rises again, / and the dead, who have always died, / are raised, / and we, who have always lived, / are changed."
This final stanza encapsulates the central message of the poem: that life is a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, and that we are all part of this eternal process. The rising of the sun and the resurrection of the dead are symbols of hope and renewal, reminding us that even in the darkest moments, there is always the possibility of new life.
In conclusion, Easter 1991 is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that explores some of the most fundamental questions of human existence. Through her masterful use of language and imagery, Greger invites us to contemplate the mysteries of the universe and our place in it. The poem is a testament to the power of poetry to inspire and uplift, and a reminder that in the midst of all our struggles and sorrows, there is always the possibility of hope and renewal.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Easter 1991: A Poem of Resurrection and Renewal
Debora Greger's Easter 1991 is a classic poem that captures the essence of the Easter season. The poem is a celebration of resurrection and renewal, and it explores the themes of death, rebirth, and the cyclical nature of life. In this article, we will analyze and explain the poem in detail, exploring its themes, imagery, and symbolism.
The poem begins with a vivid description of the Easter season, with the speaker describing the "bright morning" and the "blue sky." The imagery here is one of hope and renewal, with the bright morning symbolizing the resurrection of Christ and the blue sky representing the infinite possibilities of new beginnings. The speaker then goes on to describe the "white lilies" and the "yellow daffodils," which are traditional symbols of Easter and spring. The lilies represent purity and innocence, while the daffodils symbolize rebirth and new beginnings.
The poem then takes a darker turn, with the speaker describing the "blackened trees" and the "burned-out cars." This imagery represents the destruction and devastation that can occur in life, and it serves as a reminder that death and destruction are a necessary part of the cycle of life. The speaker then goes on to describe the "empty lots" and the "abandoned buildings," which represent the decay and decline that can occur in life. This imagery serves as a reminder that even in the midst of death and destruction, there is always the possibility of renewal and rebirth.
The poem then shifts back to a more positive tone, with the speaker describing the "children in their Easter clothes" and the "families gathered in the park." This imagery represents the joy and celebration that can occur in life, and it serves as a reminder that even in the midst of death and destruction, there is always the possibility of new beginnings and renewal. The speaker then goes on to describe the "church bells ringing" and the "choir singing," which represent the spiritual and religious aspects of Easter.
The poem then takes a more personal turn, with the speaker describing her own experiences of Easter. She describes how she used to "hunt for eggs" and how she would "dress up in her Sunday best." This imagery represents the innocence and joy of childhood, and it serves as a reminder that even in the midst of the challenges and difficulties of life, there is always the possibility of joy and happiness.
The poem then ends with a powerful image of resurrection and renewal, with the speaker describing how the "dead trees" are "coming back to life" and how the "burned-out cars" are "being towed away." This imagery represents the possibility of resurrection and renewal, even in the midst of death and destruction. The poem ends with the speaker declaring that "Easter is here," and that it is a time of "resurrection and renewal."
Overall, Easter 1991 is a powerful and evocative poem that captures the essence of the Easter season. It explores the themes of death, rebirth, and the cyclical nature of life, and it uses vivid imagery and symbolism to convey its message. The poem serves as a reminder that even in the midst of the challenges and difficulties of life, there is always the possibility of resurrection and renewal, and that Easter is a time to celebrate that possibility.
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