This past Sunday was Palm Sunday. Don’t worry; there’s a poem for that.
The poem takes the form of an “apostrophe”: an address to Jerusalem, the “daughter of Zion,” in reference to Matthew’s use of Zechariah 9:9 in Matthew 21:5:
Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.(KJV)
The epigram has a decidedly epic feel. For instance, instead of using the word κύριος [kurios] for “Lord,” the poet uses the Homeric-sounding ἄναξ [anax]. While Christ is seated on a foal rather than a war-horse, he nevertheless goes “quickly” (αἶψα [aipsa]) to his suffering and death. This is a king who does not fear single combat with the dark powers.
As in the past, I give the Greek text according to the Loeb edition, the Loeb translation, and my metrical translation.
The Greek text:
Εἰς τὰ Βαΐα
Χαῖρε, Σιὼν θύγατερ, καὶ δέρκεο Χριστὸν ἄνακτα
πώλῳ ἐφεζόμενον καὶ ἐς πάθος αἶψα κιόντα.
The Loeb translation:
Greetings, daughter of Zion, and look on Christ the king seated on a foal and going swiftly to his suffering.Trans. W.R. Paton, rev. by Michael A. Tueller
On Palm Sunday
Daughter of Zion, hail and see
This veiled celestial mystery:
The cosmic Lord upon a foal
(As presaged in the ancient scroll)
Lights out in haste for suffering–
A slave’s death for the King of Kings.