Alas! In his anger my Lord beclouded
flung down from the heavens to earth
the honour of Israel;
nor remembered his footstool
in the day of his anger;
Brought to the ground in desecration
a kingdom and its princes;
in fury has razed the defences
of daughter Judah.
My Lord has devoured without pity
all the dwellings of Jacob;
Cut off in his smouldering wrath
every horn of Israel;
has withdrawn his right hand
at enemy approach;
has blazed against Jacob in fire,
consuming all around.
Drawing his bow like an enemy,
his right hand poised,
like a foe, he has slain those precious
in his eye, and has poured
out his wrath like fire on the tent
of Daughter Zion.
Enemy! So the Lord has become,
and swallowed up Israel—
has swallowed up all of her palaces,
and laid waste her strongholds;
has multiplied for Daughter Judah
wailing and weeping.
Felling his tent like a garden,
he destroyed his meeting place;
The Lord has blotted from Zion
both feast-day and sabbath;
in raging anger has spurned
both king and priest.
God has rejected his altar,
spurned his shrine;
to the hands of the enemy has given
the walls of her strongholds.
They in the Lord's house shout
as on festival-day.
He was bent on destroying
daughter Zion's wall;
The Lord stretched out the measuring line;
did not hesitate to devour;
made wall and rampart lament
together they succumbed.
Into the ground her gates sunk;
he shattered her bars.
Her king and her princes are exiled;
law is absent;
her prophets no longer could find
any vision from the Lord.
Jerusalem's Daughter, your elders
sit silent on the ground;
dust they cast on their heads
and sackcloth they gird.
Zion's young women bow
their heads to the ground.
Lamenting, my weeping eyes fail;
my stomach is turned;
at the brokenness of my People's Daughter
my heart to the ground spills
as the infants and children expire
in the city streets.
Mothers hear them crying out loud:
"Where is corn and wine?"
as they expire like the wounded
in the city streets;
as their lives ebb away
in their mothers' arms.
O Daughter Jerusalem: to what can I
liken you or compare?
O virgin Daughter Zion:
whose plight is like yours?
Wide as the sea breaks your wound;
who could heal you?
Prophets provided you visions—
They did not lay bare your guilt
to restore your fortunes;
they saw for you only oracles
of illusions and deceit.
Remembered once: "Perfect in beauty,
joy of all earth";
now those who pass by on the road
clap in derision;
they hiss and wag their heads
over Daughter Jerusalem.
Snarling and gnashing their teeth,
all your enemies
open their mouths at you, saying
"We have devoured her!
Long for this day we have waited—
we have lived to see it!"
The Lord has done what he planned,
has fulfilled his threat
decreed from days of old,
to destroy without pity;
has let the enemy over you gloat
and exalted your foes' horn.
Unto the Lord let your heart cry,
wall of Daughter Zion.
Shed tears like a torrent
day and night;
give yourself no relief,
your eyes no rest.
Vociferous! Cry anguished all night,
at the start of each watch.
Spill out your heart like water
in full sight of the Lord.
Lift up your hands to him
for the lives of your babes.
Who have you thus tormented?
Look, Lord; consider.
Must women eat their own offspring,
their born babes?
Should priest and prophet be slain
in the sanctuary of the Lord?
Young and old lie dead together
on the ground in the streets;
young women and young men fallen,
cut down by the sword.
You slaughtered on the day of your wrath:
slew them without pity.
Zoned round: the terrors you summoned
as to a feast day;
on the day of the Lord's anger
none escaped or survived.
Those I had nursed and reared,
my enemy annihilated.
"Alas!": Hebrew 'Ekah, meaning "how", the name of the book itself, and beginning with the Hebrew letter 'aleph' equivalent to our 'A'.
Footstool: a metaphorical reference to the Jerusalem Temple.
The Hebrew also has an alliterative wordplay here.
This line may well refer to the absence of religious law (in parallel to the secular goverance of the first line).
This striking translation courtesy of NABRE.
Psalm 48:2, Psalm 50:2; Ezek.27:3.
Various manuscripts add the extra line-pair:
who faint from famine and hunger / at every street-corner.