On the occasion of his 76th birthday, 24 June 1595, Theodore Beza (1519-1605) wrote a poem to his friend and fellow Swiss Reformed theologian Jean-Jacques (Johann Jakob) Grynaeus (1540-1617). In the poem, Beza, in humble spirit, recalls how a hen he bought had offered him more in the short space of a month than what he has rendered to the Lord in his 76 years on earth so far. Perhaps Beza had Matthew 23:37 or Luke 13:34 in mind when he wrote this poem, but whatever the case may be, this is a true gem. Below is the Latin, followed by my own loose English translation:
Ter quinos Gallina mihi dedit unica pullos
Mense uno, denis assibus empta prius.
Ast ego septenis decies, sexque insuper annis
Quos retuli fructus, Christe benign tibi?
Ah! Quam non quales tibi reddere debuit emptus
Tam care, et tanto tempore cultus ager!
At non degeneres prorsus, seseque negantes
Divini afflatu numinis esse satos.
Sed quorsum haec? unum hoc tribuas, peto, Christe, roganti:
Sis gallina mihi, sim tibi pullus ego!
One hen gave me fifteen chicks
In one month, having earlier been bought for ten coins.
But I, at seven decades and six additional years,
What fruits have I returned to You, benign Christ?
Ah! I have not even returned to you as much as I needed to buy it,
As much value, and as much time as was needed for the cultivation of the field!
But yet I am not altogether degenerate, denying to myself
That the divine inspiration of the Lord is sown in me.
But why do I say all this? Grant this one thing, I pray, O Christ, asking:
That You be a hen to me, and I be a chick to You!