By now I should be entering on the supreme stage
Of the whole walk, reserved for the late afternoon.
The heat was to be over now; the anxious mountains,
The airless valleys and the sun-baked rocks, behind me.
Now, or soon now, if all is well, come the majestic
Rivers of foamless charity that glide beneath
Forests of contemplation. In the grassy clearings
Humility with liquid eyes and damp, cool nose
Should come, half-tame, to eat bread from my hermit hand.
If storms arose, then in my tower of fortitude–
It ought to have been in sight by this–I would take refuge;
But I expected rather a pale mackerel sky,
Feather-like, perhaps shaking from a lower cloud
Light drops of silver temperance, and clovery earth
Sending up mists of chastity, a country smell,
Till earnest stars blaze out in the established sky
Rigid with justice; the streams audible; my rest secure.
I can see nothing like all this. Was the map wrong?
Maps can be wrong. But the experienced walker knows
That the other explanation is more often true.
Princes they hung by their hands, respect they stripped from the elders
Young men rattle the millstone, boys stagger under their loads
Wise elders have abandoned the gates, young men quit their songs
Our hearts have abandoned their joy, our bodies that danced now mourn
The crown has crashed from our head, woe to us, sinners
In all these things, our hearts retch, in all these things our eyes swim
Mount Zion is desolate, foxes forage, scavenge its hill
You, YHWH, are enthroned forever, from generation to generation
Why do you forget us forever? Why have you forsaken us so long?
Bring us back to you, so we return, and renew the days of old
Unless you have utterly rejected us, and are settled in your anger
Lord, remember what has happened to us; look at us; see our disgrace
Our possessions were given to strangers, our homes to squatters
We are fatherless, orphans, our mothers are widows
We pay for our water, and also our wood to heat and to eat
We are constantly exploited, we are weary without rest
We’ve pledged to Egypt and to Assyria, simply to eat our bread
Our fathers sinned and are dead, while we bear their iniquity
Slaves delight to rule us, we’ve no escape from their whip
We exchange our lives for our food, the sword sneaks in the wilderness
Our skins burn like fire, the fever of hunger
The women of Zion they raped, the virgins of the city of Judah