Easter is a Side-Gate on this Sunk Road to Perdition

Great themes are like a sunken road
That feet long dead have grooved,
Great expositions have been made
And cannot be improved.

‘Tis thus I feel on holy days
Some say new words require,
’Tis why I seldom can supply
The words that they desire.

I love to stroll a sunken road,
High-hedged, narrow, archaic,
To hear the ghosts of long dead feet,
Poetic and prosaic;

But there is this that mitigates
My strolling delectation:
The sunken road has picked my path,
Dead feet my destination.

Easter is a theme on which
Expositors unnumbered,
Have so much discoursed that their words
Have hedged me and encumbered—

The empty tomb, the dislodged stone,
The disused bandage folded,
The distressed maid, disciples fleet,
Fresh air where flesh had molded—

By these great themes no true heart is
Untouched, unchanged, unmoved,
But expositions have been made
And cannot be improved.

Bare life is but a sunken road
That has one destination,
The groove is deep, the hedges high,
That end death and damnation;

Easter is a side-gate on
This sunk road to perdition,
Beyond this gate a meadow waves
Unfenced by definition;

About this meadow men untold
Have argued, written, talked,
And of this side-gate all they mean
Is that it’s been unlocked.

2 thoughts on “Easter is a Side-Gate on this Sunk Road to Perdition

  1. Splendid! A worthy sequel to your Friday poem.

    Your meditation on the “sunken road” is wonderfully fruitful: the road is well-grooved, and so it limits the possibility of excursion, but this is because it is the road to Truth on which so many travelers have naturally converged.

    It reminds me of the story about the college-campus designer who was asked where he thought the pathways should be laid, and who said that it would be better to install none at all during construction, but rather to wait to see where the ruts would be worn by the students going from place to place, and then pave those.

    An even more compelling metaphor, though, I think, is taken from Richard Feynman’s “sum-over-histories” model of the paths followed by quantum particles – in which all of the infinite paths the particle might take cancel each other out by mutual interference, leaving only the one that actually proceeds directly to the destination.

    Thank you for this! – MP

    • I’m glad you liked it. And I need to thank you for the challenge to put the follow-up on paper. There is something to be said for free-range rambling, and something to be said for beaten paths. Here is a quote I like from another Massachusetts man named Bradford Torrey. It’s from an 1889 book called A Rambler’s Lease, which generally endorses walking where one pleases, without regard to property lines. But Torrey also says: “In my eyes, it is nothing against a hill that other men have climbed it before me; and if their feet have worn a trail, so much the better.” I’m not too proud to follow a road that it is worth following, but I have enough spirit to sometimes jump the fence.


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