On Tisha b'Av, which begins tonight, we read the Book of Lamentations. Here is my own pentameter translation of the third.
I am the man who saw pain by the rod of his anger:
I am the one he marched through darkness, no light:
Only against me would he turn his hand all day.
He wasted my flesh and my skin, he broke my bones;
He built a yoke around my head to tire me.
In dark places he sat me, as one long since dead.
He fenced me in, he trapped me, oppressed me with chains;
Though I'd scream and shout, he shut out my prayers.
He barred my way with thick blocks of stone.
He was a bear in waiting, a lion in hiding;
He made me rebel, then broke me, to waste me away.
He bent his bow, aiming the arrows at me;
They pierced my loins, the children of his quiver.
I became everyone's joke, their sport all day.
He filled me with bile, made me drunk with bitterness.
He broke my teeth with gravel, fed me ashes:
Peace abandoned my soul, I forgot all goodness:
I now say, Lost is my strength and my hope from the Lord.
Remembering my anguish and pain is venom and gall:
Remembering again--it makes my soul sink.
This I will tell my heart so it may hope:
The Lord's grace is not over, his love has no end,
Renewed every morning, his faithfulness is great.
My lot is the Lord, says my soul, so in him I will hope.
The Lord is good to the patient soul that seeks him;
It's good in silence to wait for the Lord's salvation:
It's good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth;
To sit alone in the silence he has received,
To put his lips to the dust--perhaps there is hope!--
To offer his cheek to him who strikes, to be shamed:
Because the Lord will not forsake him forever;
For though he may harm, he pities with all his kindness;
For he may distress and hurt men, but not from his heart.
To crush beneath his feet all the earth's captives,
To bend a man's rights in the face of the Most High,
To twist a man's plea--does the Lord not see these things?
Who claims there is something the Lord has not commanded?
That from his mouth came not both the bad and the good?
How can man, living boldly in sin, complain?
Let's trace and explore our ways and turn back to the Lord:
Lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven:
We sinned and rebelled, and you did not forgive.
Wrapped in anger you chased us, killed us, spared none,
Wrapped in a cloud through which no prayer can pass,
You placed us, nothing but waste, in the midst of the nations.
All our enemies opened their mouths against us;
Fear and a pit were our downfall and our ruin.
Streams flow from my eyes for my people's daughter:
My eyes pour down without respite, without end,
Until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees
My eyes abusing my soul for my city's daughters.
They hunted me like a bird, my causeless enemies,
They held my life in a pit, and threw stones at me.
Water flowed over my head: I said, I am lost.
I called your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit;
You heard me: Don't close your ears to my cry of help!
You neared me the day I called you--you told me, Fear not.
You pleaded, Lord, the plea of my soul, you saved my life,
You saw, Lord, how justice is twisted--now judge my case.
You saw all their frenzy, all their plots against me;
You heard the shamefulness, Lord, of their thoughts of me
From the lips of those who slandered me all day,
Sitting or standing--look: I am their target.
Repay them, O Lord, for what their hands have done,
Give them sadness of heart, your curse place on them.
Destroy them in anger from under the heavens of the Lord.