Lamentations 1

Lamentations 1, like other chapters, has the same number of stanzas, 22, as the Hebrew alphabet and is acrostic.


Alas![1] Solitary lies the city
 once teeming with people;
She, once great among nations,
 now become as a widow;
once queen among provinces,
 now chained to forced labour.


Bitterly she weeps through the night
 her cheeks tear-wetted;
None there is to console her
 from all her lovers;
all of her friends have betrayed her,
 become her enemies.


Cast out into exile is Judah;
 hard labour and affliction.
She dwells among other nations
 but finds no rest.
All who pursue her overtake her
 trapped down an alleyway.


Devoid of all pilgrims to her feasts,
 the roads to Zion mourn;
her gateways all are desolate,
 her priests groan,
her young women grieve;
 how bitter her fate.


Enemies now have mastered her,
 her foes rest easy.
The Lord has stricken her with sorrow
 for her innumerable misdeeds.
Her children are hauled into exile,
 captive before the foe.


From Daughter Zion has departed
 all former splendour.
Her princes now wander like deer
 that find no pasture;
They run, all their strength spent,
 pursued by the hunter.


Great treasures that once were hers
 in days gone by
Jerusalem calls to mind
 in her days of affliction.
When her people fell to enemy hand,
 there was none to help.
Her foes looked on and mocked
 her fallen state.[2]


How greatly has Jerusalem sinned—
 become a mockery.
Those who once honoured her, despise her,
 seeing her nakedness.
She, on her part, groans
 and hides her face.


Iniquity clung to her skirts;
 she heeded not her future.
Her downfall beggars belief;
 there was none to comfort her.
"Look, O Lord on my affliction,
 how the enemy triumphs."


Looted by enemy hands
 each one of her treasures;
nations of pagans she witnessed
 enter her sanctuary—
those you forbade to enter
 assembly with you.


Moaning in famine her people
 begging for bread,
bartering treasures for food
 to cling to their lives.
"Look, O Lord and consider,
 for I am despised."


Notice! And look, you travellers;
 is it nothing to you?
Is there any pain like my pain,
 so inflicted on me,
that the Lord brought on me
 in the day of his wrath?


Out of heaven he hurled fire;
 it ran through my bones.
He spread out a net for my feet;
 he turned me back.
He made me desolate; racked
 with sickness the day long.


Packed into a yoke are my sins;
 his own hand wove them
and hoisted them onto my neck;
 my strength failed the weight.
He delivered me over to those
 I cannot withstand.


Rejecting my own mighty warriors,
 the Lord scorned them,
and summoned an army against me
 to crush my young men.
In a winepress my Lord has trodden
 virgin Daughter Judah.


Streaming with tears, my eyes—
 my eyes weep for these things;
far distant those who might comfort me,
 to restore my soul.
My children all are desolate;
 the enemy has prevailed.


Taut-stretched reach out Zion's hands,
 but none comforts her;
the Lord has summoned against Jacob
 his foes to encircle;
Jerusalem in their midst has become
 a thing unclean.


Upright is the Lord, but I
 had defied his command.
Hear, I pray, all you peoples,
 and look on my pain:
all my young men and maidens
 hauled off into exile.


Vainly I called to my lovers
 but all deceived me.
In the city my priests and my elders
 went hungry and perished
when they searched for food to revive
 their failing souls.


Witness, O Lord, my distress!
 My stomach churns,
my heart recoils within me:
 grievously I rebelled.
Outside the sword bereaves;
 inside, too, death.


Yearnings of anguish they heard,
 but none brings me comfort.
My enemies heard that distress
 and rejoiced that you caused it.
Oh, bring on the day you announced—
 let them be as me!


Zero in on all their evil;
 torment them in their turn,
as you had tormented me
 for all my rebellions.
My groans are many;
 my heart is sick.

[1]"Alas!": Hebrew 'Ekah, meaning "how", the name of the book itself, and beginning with the Hebrew letter 'aleph' equivalent to our 'A'.

[2]This seventh verse, like 2:19, has an extra line in the Hebrew.