"But now they mock me,1 men younger than I, whose fathers I would have disdained to put with my sheep dogs.2
Of what use was the strength of their hands to me, since their vigor had gone from them?
Haggard from want and hunger, they roamed the parched land3 in desolate wastelands4 at night.5
In the brush they gathered salt herbs,6 and their food was the root of the broom tree.7
They were banished from their fellow men, shouted at as if they were thieves.
They were forced to live in the dry stream beds, among the rocks and in holes in the ground.8
They brayed9 among the bushes10 and huddled in the undergrowth.
A base and nameless brood,11 they were driven out of the land.12
"And now their sons mock me13 in song;14 I have become a byword15 among them.
They detest me16 and keep their distance; they do not hesitate to spit in my face.17
Now that God has unstrung my bow18 and afflicted me,19 they throw off restraint20 in my presence.
On my right21 the tribe attacks; they lay snares22 for my feet,23 they build their siege ramps against me.24
They break up my road;25 they succeed in destroying me26-- without anyone's helping them.
They advance as through a gaping breach;27 amid the ruins they come rolling in.
Terrors28 overwhelm me;29 my dignity is driven away as by the wind, my safety vanishes like a cloud.30
"And now my life ebbs away;31 days of suffering grip me.32
Night pierces my bones; my gnawing pains never rest.33
In his great power34 [God] becomes like clothing to me; he binds me like the neck of my garment.
He throws me into the mud,35 and I am reduced to dust and ashes.36
"I cry out to you,37 O God, but you do not answer;38 I stand up, but you merely look at me.
You turn on me ruthlessly;39 with the might of your hand40 you attack me.41
You snatch me up and drive me before the wind;42 you toss me about in the storm.43
I know you will bring me down to death,44 to the place appointed for all the living.45
"Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man46 when he cries for help in his distress.47
Have I not wept for those in trouble?48 Has not my soul grieved for the poor?49
Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness.50
The churning inside me never stops;51 days of suffering confront me.52
I go about blackened,53 but not by the sun; I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.54
I have become a brother of jackals,55 a companion of owls.56
My skin grows black57 and peels;58 my body burns with fever.59
My harp is tuned to mourning,60 and my flute61 to the sound of wailing.