1. Alas, for now she sits alone, the city once was great Now a widow silent grieves and contemplates her fate The greatest of the nations a tribute has become She weeps at night, her tears alight, her beauty's come undone.
Her lovers have betrayed her, her friends become her foes Judah gone to exile, she's bent from all her woes She dwelt among the nations, but there she found no rest She tried to hide in narrow sides but there they caught her best.
Her roads now are in mourning; they do not pilgrims bear Her gates are wide but empty; now sighs of priests they hear Her rival's now her master, her children sold as slaves She lost her kin, God counts her sins, stripped from all her grace.
Her leaders found no pasture, they stumbled as they fled Jerusalem remembers all the treasures now are bled When no one came to help her, her enemies rejoiced They wonder how she wanders now, but this was all her choice.
Iniquity she flaunted, to ends she paid no mind And now they loot her Temple where her treasures were confined The people sigh in hunger, they trade for loaves of bread I wish this not, this vapid rot, 'pon those who see my dread.
Oh, can you find another, afflicted so like I? From high He threw a fire so I'd burn and then I'd die He made me trip and stumble, in constant misery My wrongs He packed in yoke compact which now enfetters me.
My heroes He has trampled, he crushes all my men And then He takes the maidens, and smashes them again This is why I wail, and this is why I cry No one is there with listening ear my spirit to revive.
Jerusalem is soiled, it's God who is the pure For I have disobeyed Him, obedience my cure My priests they have all perished, my elders food but seek My insides churn, revenge I yearn; what they did, let them reap.
2. Alas, my Lord in anger has cast on us a cloud From His seat in Heaven our glory has thrown down Consuming without pity the places where we dwell Our fort He razed, our king disgraced, the Lord of Israel.
He burned us like a fire, He bent us like a bow He slaughtered all our fairest, He beat us down so low He pulverized our towers, He vanquished our forts What we forgot, but He did not; the Sabbath brought a tort.
The kings they did no matter, the priests He brushed aside The alter then He shattered as He led the spy inside While wrecking, they were festive , as God destroyed our wall The prophets mute as captors loot; the Torah, too, will fall.
The elders sit in silence, with ashes on their head On earth they mourn in sackcloth; they mourn a world that's dead My eyes are blind for weeping, my insides on the ground For what I see, it cannot be, yet witness I this sound.
"Oh, mama, where's my supper?" the babies cry and beg On streets they swoon, their end so soon, on mother's laps they ebb To what can I compare you, your ruin vast as sea And yet the cause should give you pause, your falsest prophecy.
They told you you were perfect, your vanity they soothed The path you tread is flawless, sin free and so smooth But now all those who see you, they hoot and point their hands Oh could this be the city we called Perfect of all lands?
God His plan enacted; He's rendered His decree Now we can but cry out, like rivers flow, do we Cry out in the nighttime; pour like rain your heart Raise up your arms, and plead no harm, beg life not to depart.
Every corner fainting, children die of thirst Should women eat their offspring? Is this how we were cursed? Slain both priest and prophet, their bodies in Your home With swords they slew, they ran them through, both young and old condoned.
That day You showed no mercy, You sent as thought to feast My foes invite for their delight to view my true defeat The day Your wrath escap'ed, when no one dared survive Those I loved have flown above; Why am I still alive?
3. I am the man whose anger from God's hand have I seen He's worn away my flesh and broken bones repeatedly Encircled me with darkness, walled with no escape I cry, I plead, I ache, I bleed; You weight me still with chains.
My walls with stones He's block'ed; he tangles up my path A lion He is hiding; shoots thorns in His wrath I've been made His target; His arrows hurl in me A laughingstock, His heart is blocked, I'm filled with misery.
He grinds my teeth on gravel, I cower in the dust I've forgotten goodness, my hope has turned to rust Remembering affliction, like I remember yet His mercies new, His faith in you, those I do not forget.
My God is all my portion, and I have hope in Him He punishes but duly, not from caprice or whim Submit to your allotment, from God it all has stemmed Lay up and cheek, be low and meek, one day He will us mend.
He does not hinder justice, corrupt He won't approve If done, He did ordain it; without Him, none could move Let us our ways examine, return to our God Lift our hands, love His commands, or stricken be by rod.
Yet you're wrapped in a layer, no prayer yet can pierce Our enemies they mock us, their jeering harsh and fierce My eyes they stream with water, adversaries ensnare From pit I cry, I call on high, but You refuse to hear.
You used to always listen, You'd champion my cause In past You would redeem me; don't write me off as lost All through the day they taunt me, repay them now in kind Please break their heart and curse their start; erase them from our minds.
4. The gold has now been dimm'ed; the lustrous shine is dulled Diamonds on the roadside; my children clay and null Even beasts will suckle; my daughter now is cruel They beg for bread, they thirst instead, their tongue dry as a rule.
The rich who daily feasted now fester in the streets Those swaddling in scarlet now have garbage at their feet Worse than even Sodom, whose wreckage yet was brief Our suff'ring long, we sigh a song, and tremble like a leaf.
My princes who were lovely, their face as white as milk Complexion red like rubies, and skin as soft as silk Now their face has darkened; they're withered and they're gray Shriveled skin, He's done them in; they're dry like wood decay.
How lucky are the victims, those stabb'ed by the sword More merciful than famine, inflicted by the Lord Mothers who were loving now cook their children soft Your fire burned, our world o'erturned, the day that You were wroth.
And all this for the prophets who told us all was well The priests who'd murdered others so their politics would swell The blinds through streets they wander, they slip on bloody piles "Away! Don't touch!" they shout too much. As lepers, we're now vile.
We search in vain for rescue, but no one comes to save Instead they come to haunt us, their enmity depraved Our end is drawing nearer, like eagles in the sky Through mount pursue, in deserts too, and in their traps we lie.
Keep your minstrel singing, you daughter of the Red To you the cup will passeth, and Edom, you will dread You'll drink until you vomit, the poison to refill No deed untouched, you did too much; exceeded what God willed.
5. Remember what's befallen, and come and see our shame Our homes are now with strangers, and only us to blame We orphans, widows, captives, we pay to drink our own To Egypt hailed, for bread assailed; Assyria gave none.
We bear the sins of fathers, we well our own we bear Our skin scorched like an oven, from faint we disappear They ravaged dames in Zion, our leaders hung by hand They mocked our old, youth bear a load, and stumble through the land.
The gates bereft of sages, the young ones sing no more The joy has gone and left us; our dancing turned to mourn On Zion roam the foxes, and yet we ask Your throne Renew our days, You've done your rage, return us to our home.
August 11th, 2019 9th of Av, the Jewish day of mourning The Book of Lamentations is read on this day. Original Hebrew here.