Are there Easter books? Certainly Christmas is a holiday rich with stories and poems--everything from “A Christmas Carol” to “A Visit from Saint Nicholas.” But Easter is different. It’s both a somber holiday--I write this on Good Friday--and a joyful one, and perhaps that mixture of death and resurrection leaves writers a bit at sea. It is certainly a deeply serious time of the year and that may be the problem. To be at all light-hearted or humorous would be tantamount to sacrilege. Children, of course, can enjoy pictures books about the Easter Bunny and run madly around looking for hidden Easter candy and eggs. Some cities still host Easter parades with marching bands, floats and even a few women in colorful hats. In music one might spend an evening listening to Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. On Saturday, those who live in big cities could visit a museum and pause before any number of Renaissance paintings of the Crucifixion. But what might one read, aside from the Gospels themselves?
I suppose that old best sellers like Lloyd C. Douglas’s “The Robe” might count as Easter reading. (It focuses on Christ’s garment, the one that the soldiers gambled for.) One of the glories of Anglo-Saxon poetry is “The Dream of the Rood”--newly translated in a recent anthology of Old English verse edited by Seamus Heaney. Rood is another name for the Cross. G.K. Chesterton’s moving poem “The Donkey” focuses on the animal ridden by Jesus as he entered Jerusalem just days before his death. But what else? Can contributors to the Reading Room suggest any other Easter reading? I’m not thinking of theological meditations, but simply stories, poems or essays that address some of the concerns that believing Christians might have during this complex season of the year. Please share your thoughts.
- Michael Dirda