The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremias
Ah, what straits have I not known, under the avenging rod!✻
Asked I for light, into deeper shadow the Lord’s guidance led me;
Always upon me, none other, falls endlessly the blow.
Broken this frame, under the wrinkled skin, the sunk flesh.
Bitterness of despair fills my prospect, walled in on every side;
Buried in darkness, and, like the dead, interminably.
Closely he fences me in, beyond hope of rescue; loads me with fetters.
Cry out for mercy as I will, prayer of mine wins no audience;
Climb these smooth walls I may not; every way of escape he has undone.
Deep ambushed he lies, as lurking bear or lion from the covert;
Drawn aside from my path, I fall a lonely prey to his ravening.
Dread archer, of me he makes a target for all his arrows;
Each shaft of his quiver at my vitals taught to strike home!
Evermore for me the taunts of my neighbours, their songs of derision.
Entertainment of bitter herbs he gives me, and of wormwood my fill,
Files all my teeth with hard gravel-stones, bids me feed on ashes.✻
Far away is my old contentment, happier days forgotten;
Farewell, my hopes of long continuance, my patient trust in the Lord!
Guilt and suffering, gall and wormwood, keep all this well in memory.
God knows it shall be remembered, and with sinking of the heart;
Gage there can be none other of remaining confidence.
His be the thanks if we are not extinguished; his mercies never weary;
Hope comes with each dawn; art thou not faithful, Lord, to thy promise?
Heart whispers, The Lord is my portion; I will trust him yet.
In him be thy trust, for him thy heart’s longing, gracious thou shalt find him;
If deliverance thou wouldst have from the Lord, in silence await it.
It is well thou shouldst learn to bear the yoke, now in thy youth,
Just burden, in solitude and silence justly borne.
Joy may yet be thine, for mouth that kisses the dust,
Jeering of the multitude, and cheek buffeted in scorn, bravely endured.
Know for certain, the Lord has not finally abandoned thee;
Kind welcome the outcast shall have, from one so rich in kindness.
Kin of Adam he will not crush or cast away wantonly;
Let there be oppression of the poor under duress,
Law’s right denied, such as the most High grants to all men,
Lying perversion of justice, then he cannot overlook it.✻
Man may foretell; only the Lord brings his word to pass;
Mingled good and evil proceed both from the will of the most High;
Mortal is none may repine; let each his own sins remember.
Narrowly our path scan we, and to the Lord return;
Never hand or heart but must point heavenward this day!
Nothing but defiant transgression on our part; and shouldst thou relent?
Over our heads thy angry vengeance lowered; smiting, thou wouldst not spare.
Oh, barrier of cloud, our prayers had no strength to pierce!
Offscouring and refuse of mankind thou hast made us,
Put to shame by the mocking grimaces of our enemies.
Prophets we had, but their word was peril and pitfall, and ruin at the last.✻
Poor Sion, for thy calamity these cheeks are furrowed with tears;
Quell if thou wouldst the restless fever of my weeping,
Quickly, Lord, look down from heaven and pay heed to us,
Quite forspent, eye and soul, with grief Jerusalem’s daughters bear.✻
Relentless as hawk in air they pursued me, enemies unprovoked,
Reft me of life itself, sealed with a stone my prison door.
Round my head the waters closed, and I had given myself up for lost,
Save for one hope; to thee, Lord, I cried from the pit’s depth,
Sure of thy audience; wouldst thou turn a deaf ear to sighs of complaint?
Summoned, thou didst come to my side, whispering, Do not be afraid.
Thine, Lord, to take my part; thine to rescue me from death;
The malice of my enemies to discover, my wrongs to redress.
Thrust away from thy sight, the grudge they bear me, the ill they purpose,
Unheard by thee their taunts, their whispered plottings?
Uttered aloud or in secret, their malice assails me from morn till night;
Up in arms, or met in secret conclave, ever against me they raise the battle-song.
Visit them with the punishment their ill deeds have earned;
Veiled be those blind hearts with fresh blindness of thy own making;
Vanish from the earth their whole brood, ere thy vengeance leaves off pursuing them!
The Holy Bible