Lamentations 4:8-14

Humiliated, they now vaunt black visage, sooty features grimace,
Not recognized in the streets, shriveled tree-bark skin shrouds bones

It is fortunate to have died, better to be violated by the sword than by hunger
Wasting slowly, pierced by pangs of the fruitless wasted fields

Juicy morsels of children have grimed the compassionate fingers of loving mothers
They, delicate fare for my cracked daughter people

Kettle whistling, the boiling wrath of God was fit, fiercely to pour;
He scorched Zion melting its foundations

Long unimaginable, neither the kings of the land, nor the inhabitants of the world
Could brave belief of an enemy entering the gates of Jerusalem

My eyes have seen it, by the sins of her prophets, by the iniquity of her priests;
They poured out an offering in the midst of the people, the blood of the righteous

Noxious, unclean, the blind men wander madly in the streets
Defiled by the blood they poured, so no one risks touching their garments

Lamentations 4:1-7

Awe-full aurum has lost its glittering gold, even perfect gold is dimmed
Abandoned jewels lie scattered in the crossings of the streets

Boys, the sons of Zion, its true treasure of gold
Are like scattered shards, littered broken pottery, fashioned then destroyed

Crazed and cruel we have become, like Ostriches choosing children to live
Even jackals offer their teats to nurse their young, but not our daughters

Dry tongues stick to dry palates of dehydrated suckling innocents
Shy children solicit bread from shamefaced agèd who avert their eyes

Easy connoisseurs, fattened by delicacies, dwindle to dust in the streets
Darlings adorned with dyes now dying amidst the refuse

Far greater than the punishment of Sodom, is this iniquity done to my people
Whose overthrow was but a moment, without the contorted hands of panic

Grand devotees dazzled like snow, Nazarites purer than milk
Their bodies salmon like coral pearls, their hair cobalt like lapis lazuli

Lamentations 3:37-66

Men’s mouths assert their power to will; all fail but the
Mouth of the Lord, when it speaks, so it is, both good and bad
May mere men moan, when weak sons of Adam suffer for their sins?

No, we must examine our ways, test them, and from this dust
Now raise our hearts and hands to the God of the heavens
Nevertheless, we have transgressed and rebelled, but you have not forgiven

Obscured, you dressed yourself in anger, pursued us to butcher us without pity
Obscured, you covered yourself with a cloud, choking our prayers from the sky
Offscouring and feces you’ve made us under the shoes of the nations

Prating tongues through parted lips pour down proud exaltation from enemy overseers
Panic and pitfall engulf us, plunging us into fracture and forlorn
Plowing tears furrow my cheeks, springing desert wadis for my shattered daughter people

Relentlessly, torrentially, the tears flow, a deep spring unceasing and unbreaking
Raining, wetting the dust until YHWH stoops to see from the heavens
Reminding my soul how deep is this well of grief for the daughters of my city

Stalked like prey, I have been, hunted, without provocation
Scrapped and stuffed solitary into a pit, penned, trapped, then stoned
Swelling, surging waves of destruction came over me; I studied death

Then I cried up, “YHWH!” from the lowest depth of this pit, this grave
This cry, you heard. “Do not close your ears to relieving my plight!”
Then you came near when I called, you said, “Do not be afraid”

Unfaltering the Lord has taken up my cause, redeeming my life from the pit
Undertaking to notice the unrelenting oppression, my exploitation; he judges my case
Unseen became seen, all their vengefulness, their cleverly devised atrocity

When they taunted, you indeed heard it, YHWH; when they plotted, you saw
While I unaware, their lips spoke daily treason against me, their minds devised domination over me
Witness their sitting and rising, the habits of evil; I am the one they mock!

YHWH, you will return the investment of cruelty to the measure their hands have earned
You will give them a tortured, anguished heart, may your curse engulf them
You will pursue them in anger, and erase them from under your heavens

Lamentations 3:13-36

Every piercing arrow from the bow of God has entered my entrails, my heart
Each onlooker with wrinkled eyes of mirth, with ecstatic giggling taunts
Eating, I am filled with bitter nothing, drinking, I am sated with acid thirst

Frequently grinding gravel, ivory gnawing, I cower covered in dust
Forgetting Shalom, in which my soul once rested, now bereft, forgetting goodness
Falteringly stuttering, “My endurance—his splendor, my hope—from YHWH, have failed”

“God, remember, my homelessness, my bitter acid, my poison”
Grievously, I remember. My soul remembers and fails
Gathering memories, my heart stumbles on this, and I hope

His covenant love is not spent; his mercies do not end
He renews them each morning; YHWH’s faithfulness is great
Hope raises its eyes to him; he is my soul’s possession

Indeed, YHWH is good to those who hope, to the soul that seeks him
It is good to wait, silently, for the salvation of YHWH
It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth

Juvenile, injudicious, he must sit alone, sit silently, when yoke is put on him
Jaw set, genuflect, lip kissing dust, on chance of hope
Jutting jaw now turned to receive patiently, reproaching blows

Knowing, the Lord does not cast off forever
Knowing, though suing suffering, he will pity from his great love
Knowing, he does afflict, but not from his heart, nor grieves the children of men

Languishing slaves, pressed to the earth to work it, he will not crush underfoot
Laid bare and vulnerable, they have rights before the face of the Most High
Legally oppressed, their claim is not unseen; defraud not sanctioned by the Lord

Lamentations 3:1-12

Affliction alone I have experienced under the rod of his wrath
Abeyant, ambled aimlessly to captivity, driven desperately in the dark
Attacking me alone, he turns and returns his fist relentlessly

Broke my bones, he scraped off my skin and flesh, worn like a garment
Built battlements enveloping me with bitterness and woe
Beleaguered by darkness and despair I sit as one long dead

Callously he has clamped and cramped me with walls, shackles I can’t escape
Calling, crying for help, my prayers are also caged
Cut paths made crooked and obstructed, choked with stones

Devouring creatures lurk, stealthy bear and stalking lion; they are YHWH, who
Dismembered me where I fled, and left me a carcass, desolate
Deftly toying with me, his target, as a bowman aims for sport

We bring Our Sacrifice of . . .

“We bring our sacrifice of … innocence lost.
~ We would offer You more, but we can’t.
We bring our sacrifice of … deep anger.
~ We would offer You other, but we must grieve unmentioned horrors.
We bring our sacrifice of … crush expectations.
~ We would offer You better, but we must fall back on cruel realities.
We bring our sacrifice of … social brokenness.
~ We would offer You healthier, but we’ve been reduced to awkwardness.

We bring our sacrifice of … mistrust toward You.
~ We would offer You the spectacular, but even You didn’t step in.

So, if we continue our walk with You, don’t:

Recoil when we do,
Cry out when we do,
Look away when we do,
Limp when we do,
Hide in ‘safe corners’ when we do.

For from these contorted linens
we must dress ourselves
And from these confusing effects
we search for an offering.

We bring our sacrifice of … dissociation.
~ We would offer You wholeness, but frightening fractures dog us.
We bring our sacrifice of … silence.
~ We would offer You anthems, but our names were lost with our voice.
We bring our sacrifice of … suspicion.
~ We would offer You a child’s embrace, but fear still seizes that child just as accusations still echo.
We bring our sacrifice of … illnesses.
~ We would offer You stature and might, but the toxin has left atrophy and illness.
We bring our sacrifice of … confusion.
~ We would offer You wit and imagination, but sleep comes hard and waking is for vigilance—if only to stumble on another fixation.

This is our praise, offered to One who must have
lost so much in his incarnation—including the praise of angels—
to take on the embodiment of:
disfigurement, isolation, scorn, rebuke, suspicion …

…and brokenness of a kind close enough
to understand this kind of praise


Andrew Schmutzer, The Long Journey Home: Understanding and Ministering to the Sexually Abused, 388-89

Lamentations 2:13-22

This is an continuation of my alliterated Lamentations translation, the rest of which can be found here:

1:1-6 // 1:7-12 // 1:13-22 // 2:1-6 // 2:7-12

The aim of this translation is to produce something like “aesthetic faithfulness” to the original, or at least to get a bit closer. I’m not sure I’ve encountered other English translations that have set out to do this.

Metaphors fail for you, daughter Jerusalem
What does your suffering mean? What can I say?
What could bring comfort do you, virgin Daughter?
Who can heal wounds deeper than the sea?

Nugatory and sham visions the prophets imagined
Not exposing your vice, restoring your fortunes
For you they saw, false fortunes, comforting chimeras

Onlookers mock you with jeering gestures, passing by
Leering heads hiss vicious cuts at Jerusalem, Daughter
Did we call this place Beauty realized? Joy of our land?

Pompous enemies spread yawning jowls jeering
Hissing, whistling, gnashing, baring yellowed ivory
Their cry, “we have swallowed her!”
“For this day we hoped, it came, we taste!”

Resolutely YHWH has done what he purposed
His words, fulfilled, have knifed, threats from long ago
He has no pity on us; the enemy has joy over us
He has exalted the might of those who kill us

Squall and shout from your hearts to YHWH
You broken defenders of daughter Zion
Let your tears run the channels of the river
Day and night, do not stop their flow
Neither allow your eyes relief

Take your place on broken ramparts to sing your grief
During early hours, when watchmen would worry
Pour out your heart like water before the Lord
Lift up your hands to him…over children starving, dying
On every street

Under the gaze of YHWH, these children die, Look! See!
Who have you ever treated this way?
Should women eat their own fruit? The children they love?
Should someone be slain in God’s sanctuary? Priest? Prophet?

Wasted in the dust of the earth
Are the corpses of our men, boys and aged
Virgins and suitors equally emptied by the sword
You slaughtered them in the day of your anger
You butchered them without pity

You summoned as if to a celebration my terrors on every side
Not on this day, the day of YHWH’s anger
No one escaped, no one survived
Children I held in my arms, and raised in hope
My enemy has destroyed