The Wife’s Lament
I draw these dark words from deep wells of wild grief,
dredged up from my heart, regretful & sad.
I recount wrenching seizures I’ve suffered since birth,
both ancient and recent, that drove me mad.
I have reaped, from my exile-paths, only pain
here on earth.
First, my Lord forsook his kinfolk―left,
crossed the seas’ shining expanse, deserted our tribe.
Since then, I’ve known only loneliness:
wrenching dawn-griefs, despair in wild tides …
Where, oh where can he be?
Then I, too, left—a lonely, lordless refugee,
full of unaccountable desires!
But the man’s kinsmen schemed to estrange us,
divide us, keep us apart.
Divorced from hope, unable to embrace him,
how my helpless heart
Then my Lord spoke:
“Take up residence here.”
I had few acquaintances in this alien land, none close.
I was penniless, friendless;
Christ, I felt lost!
I believed I’d met a well-matched man—one meant for me,
was ill-starred, unkind,
with a devious mind,
full of malicious intentions,
plotting some crime!
Before God we
vowed never to part, not till kingdom come, never!
But now that’s all changed, forever—
our marriage is done, severed.
Thus now I must hear,
far and near,
early and late,
contempt for my mate.
Then naysayers bade me, “Go, seek repentance in the sacred grove,
beneath the great oak trees, in some root-entangled grotto, alone.”
Now in this ancient earth-hall I huddle, hurt and oppressed—
the dales are dark, the hills wild & immense,
and this cruel-briared enclosure—a hellish abode!
How the injustice assails me—my Lord’s absence!
Elsewhere on earth lovers share the same bed
while I pass through life, half dead,
in this dark abscess where I wilt with the heat, unable to rest
or forget the tribulations of my life’s hard lot.
A young woman must always be
stern, hard-of-heart, unmoved, full of belief,
enduring breast-cares, suppressing her own feelings.
She must always appear cheerful,
even in a tumult of grief.
Now, like a criminal exiled to a distant land,
groaning beneath insurmountable cliffs,
my weary-minded lover, drenched by wild storms
and caught in the clutches of anguish, moans and mourns,
reminded constantly of our former happiness.
Woe be it to them who abide in longing!