“The Name of Jesus”: Another Epigram by Henrik Harder

Herewith another epigram by Henrik Harder.

What makes this epigram on the name of Jesus “epigrammatic” is a pun on the ambiguity of the Latin word nomen, which means both “name” and “account.” It’s Jesus’s name, which stands for his person and work, that solves (that’s a pun, too) the sinner’s divine banking dilemma. We don’t have the same ambiguity in English, but I’ve tried to reflect it in the translation in a different way.

The poem is just one elegiac couplet. Instead of using a customary English meter, I’ve used an English version of the Latin meter (dactylic hexameter + dactylic pentameter). I think critical opinion is probably divided on the advisability of doing this; but, on the other hand, I don’t really care. “Meter” is just a formalized way of arranging syllables in recognizable patterns, and using Greek and Roman meters can, mutatis mutandis,[1] work in English in my opinion.

Anyway, here’s the poem.

Nomen JESU.

Omnia debebam nec eram solvendo futurus,

    Hoc nomen nomen me facit esse bonum.

“The Name of Jesus”

I was in debt so deep, my fate was to die insolvent;

    But on account of Jesus’ name my account is clear.  


1 I.e., swapping quantity for stress.


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