“Easter 1984” is a short lyric on the subject of the role of Jesus Christ and Christianity in human history. The first section of the poem evokes the crucifixion of Christ. Christ is referred to in the first couplet as “human dignity,” the humanity of the Savior healing people “in the middle of the day”—not only referring to the time of day but also meaning in the open rather than in secret.
The second couplet relates humankind’s hostile, uncomprehending response to Jesus’ generosity: “we moved in on him slowly,” too used to old systems of law, vengeance, and the strange mixture of anarchy and retribution that is at the root of purely human systems of justice: “If this was God, we would get even.” The Crucifixion, it is implied, was an act of fear, of humans fearing their own potential, fearing the opportunities that Christ’s healing would have brought them. Christ’s dual divine-human nature redeems humankind, yet humankind fears being redeemed, wanting instead to continue the normal state of affairs. “We’d send it to be abstract again,” the poem says, suggesting that by crucifying Jesus humankind had made divinity once again abstract, loosed it from being incarnated in humanity. Therefore, a hesitant and uncomprehending humankind falsely feels liberated.
However, as the second section of the poem suggests, this was not the end of the story. The killing of Christ did not extinguish the qualities he brought...
(The entire section is 525 words.)