“By God’s Gifts and the Widow’s Faith”: An Epigram on Elijah

Been a while; new poem today.

In this post, I translate Greek Anthology 1.77, on 1 Kings 17, in which Elijah is fed by the widow. For anyone who heard John 6:1-15 for yesterday’s Gospel reading, the theme will be familiar. The original is a single elegiac couplet. My version consists of two couplets of alternating iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter, with the trimeter lines rhyming.

I include the Greek text according to the Loeb edition, the Loeb translation, and my poetic version.

First, the Greek text:

Εἰς τὴν χήραν τὴν τὸν Ἠλίαν θρέψασαν

Βλύζει ἐλαιηρὴ κάλπις καὶ κίστη ἀλεύρου,

    ἔμπεδον ἡ χήρη οὕνεκα πίστιν ἔχει.

Next, the Loeb translation:

The pitcher of oil and the basket of meal overflow because the widow has firm faith.

Trans. W.R. Paton, rev. by Michael A. Tueller

Finally, my version:

On the Widow Who Fed Elijah

The pitcher gushes forth with oil,

   The basket, too, with bread.

By God’s gifts and the widow’s faith,

   Elijah’s fleetly fed. 


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