Friday, April 6, 2012

The Lamentations of Jeremiah, Part II

The Lord marked for destruction
   the wall of daughter Zion:
He stretched out the measuring line;
   his hand brought ruin, yet he did not relent
He brought grief on wall and rampart
   till both succumbed.
Sunk into the ground are her gates;
   he has removed and broken her bars.
Her king and her princes are among the pagans;
   priestly instruction is wanting,
And her prophets have not received
   any vision from the Lord.

On the ground in silence sit
   the old men of daughter Zion;
They strew dust on their heads
   and gird themselves with sackcloth;
The maidens of Jerusalem
   bow their heads to the ground.

Worn out from weeping are my eyes,
   withing me all is in ferment;
My gall is poured out on the ground
   because of the downfall of the daughter of my people,
As child and infant faint away
   in the open spaces of the town.
They ask their mothers,
   “Where is the cereal?” -- in vain.
As they faint away like the wounded
   in the streets of the city,
And breathe their last
   in their mothers’ arms.

To what can I like or compare you,
   O daughter Jerusalem?
What example can I show you for your comfort,
   virgin daughter Zion?
For great as the sea is your downfall;
   who could heal you?
Your prophets had for you
   false and specious visions;
They did not lay bare your guilt,
   to avert your fate;
They beheld for you in vision
   false and misleading portents.

All who pass by
   clap their hands at you;
They hiss and wag their heads
   over daughter Jerusalem:
“Is this the all-beautiful city,
   the joy of the whole earth?"

I am a man who knows affliction
   from the rod of his anger,
One whom he has led and forced to walk
   in darkness, not in the light;
Against me alone he brings back his hand
   again and again all the day.

He has worn away my flesh and my skin,
   he has broken my bones;
He has beset me round about
   with poverty and weariness;
He has left me to dwell in the dark
   like those long dead.

He has hemmed me in with no escape
   weighed me down with chains;
Even when I cry out for help,
   he stops my prayer;
He has blocked my ways with fitted stones,
   and turned my paths aside.

(The Book of Lamentations, Chapter 2, Verses 8-15 and Chapeter 3, Verses 1-9)

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