Mike Keith

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Original text in yellow, anagram in pink.

In its original form, the third chapter of the Lamentations of Jeremiah is an alphabetical
acrostic in twenty-two groups of three verses, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

This acrostic anagram of the King James text anagrams each block of three verses as a unit. Owing
to the scarcity of some letters, only an approximation of alphabetical order has been used.

The anagram is not a direct rewording of the original but rather a series of lamentational sketches drawing
upon various sources of inspiration. In some cases there is a tie between the original and the anagram,
as in, for example, 4-6, 13-15, and especially 46-48; others are more general lamentational musings.


I AM the man that hath seen affliction
   by the rod of his wrath.
He hath led me, and brought me into darkness,
   but not into light.
Surely against me is he turned;
   he turneth his hand against me all the day.

A tomb of sadness haunteth this dying inhabitant, man:
   heir of a sullen death-region, Earth.
As the human laughter dies,
   choked with larghetto rhythm,
Attend this humble litany of disheartenment:


My flesh and my skin hath he made old;
   he hath broken my bones.
He hath builded against me,
   and compassed me with gall and travail.
He hath set me in dark places,
   as they that be dead of old.

King Lear, that shabby, defeated monarch,
   gnashes at a chilly heath-moon, mad as a hatter;
Killed by them, the pale handmaidens
   who had subtly moved him.
Kind men fled, as he sped to Hades.


He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out:
   he hath made my chain heavy.
Also when I cry and shout,
   he shutteth out my prayer.
He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone,
   he hath made my paths crooked.

Cordelia, his unshy daughter,
   toyed with a hot and unchecked mouth.
Cast away, she soothed not the mayhem at home;
   she held haughty envy.
Cemetery paths, with a heathen hymn on harp,
   await them both.


He was unto me as a bear lying in wait,
   and as a lion in secret places.
He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces:
   he hath made me desolate.
He hath bent his bow,
   and set me as a mark for the arrow.

Bunyan's Pilgrim: a one-time seer, a watcher-ahead
   in the land of ethereal shadows.
"Banish misdeeds! Eliminate Adam's
   weak nature!" he cried.
But was he a happy man, at the same story's end?
   Oh, who can tell?


He hath caused the arrows of his quiver
   to enter into my reins.
I was a derision to all my people;
   and their song all the day.
He hath filled me with bitterness,
   he hath made me drunken with wormwood.

Don Cupid: the immoral shyster, faith's enemy,
   and dishonest killer of quietus,
Drew his handy bow at
   a hot Athenean sweetheart,
Drilling home a hole wherewith
   to maim the ardent love-worshiper.


He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones,
   he hath covered me with ashes.
And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace:
   I forgat prosperity.
And I said, My strength and my hope
   is perished from the LORD:

Egberto Gismonti plays homage
   to his lost home, Europe:
Effervescent, three-rhythmed, thirsty, modal,
   dove-smooth, hard, fast. Oh, hear this:
Even his unhappy chords reaffirm
   that warped daydream known as life.


Remembering mine affliction and my misery,
   the wormwood and the gall.
My soul hath them still in remembrance,
   and is humbled in me.
This I recall to my mind,
   therefore have I hope.

Fiona mumbles her verbose,
   pathetic, anti-merriment moment.
Feeling 'criminally' man-tied,
   she hammers home her droll modern tale.
Fly home - you dim, childish, white dingbat. (Yawn.)


It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed,
   because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning:
   great is thy faithfulness.
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul;
   therefore will I hope in him.

Hannibal Lecter simply eats them, again,
   with relish.
Hordes of serious movie-house fans
   pulsate and cringe here, yet yelp for more.
How this monotonous fiction is
   other than strictly weird mystifies me.


The LORD is good unto them that wait for him,
   to the soul that seeketh him.
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait
   for the salvation of the LORD.
It is good for a man
   that he bear the yoke of his youth.

Go today to the room of Amontillado,
   with the taste of vodka on the sadist's mouth.
Go thither, pause at it: the third tomb of makeshift
   habituation he fashioned in the hard wall.
"Go to hell!" quoth he. "You're history!"


He sitteth alone and keepeth silence,
   because he hath borne it upon him.
He putteth his mouth in the dust;
   if so be there may be hope.
He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him:
   he is filled full with reproach.

Icarus flyeth high in the heavens:
   he maketh his 'Pop' the happiest of men.
In a while his back melteth, but he shouteth
   "Oh, ride the hot tube! Oh, fierce!"
In the end he plummeteth to the earth:
   is soil, dust. Imbecile!


For the LORD will not cast off
   for ever:
But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion
   according to the multitude of his mercies.
For he doth not afflict willingly
   nor grieve the children of men.

Lead singer of R.E.M., Michael Stipe,
   crooned with sad fervor,
"Listen: Everybody hurts. Oh, forget not the difficult
   affliction of fellow men (though it's a cliché).
Love them with honor,
   touching fuller grace."


To crush under his feet
   all the prisoners of the earth.
To turn aside the right of a man
   before the face of the most High,
To subvert a man in his cause,
   the LORD approveth not.

Macbeth, the chief cut-throat Thane,
   honored not his father's great house.
Misfortunes and open portents both
   overheated his furtive life.
Metaphors for us all, I gather.


Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass,
   when the Lord commandeth it not?
Out of the mouth of the most High
   proceedeth not evil and good?
Wherefore doth a living man complain,
   a man for the punishment of his sins?

Nero lifted his violin to the Romans;
   thus the common affair goes.
"Nothing", he mused, "withstood me! Avaunt, man!
   To the north, damned host!" he pointed. "Life? So what?"
Night approached him,
   with the echo of phantom colts.


Let us search and try our ways,
   and turn again to the LORD.
Let us lift up our heart with our hands
   unto God in the heavens.
We have transgressed and have rebelled:
   thou hast not pardoned.

"Veni": Caesar ruled, unhurt,
   sprawled as Atlas on the throne.
"Vidi": Now aged, he turns
   to threaten the long-departed.
"Vi...": No sound, but only the hush of death,
   as the royal guards turn seaward.


Thou hast covered with anger, and persecuted us:
   thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied.
Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud,
   that our prayer should not pass through.
Thou hast made us as the offscouring and refuse
   in the midst of the people.

Omar, our Shah's cultivated tent-mender, sad?
   That hot pleasure guru? Oh, never!
"Out, hurt and suffering!"
"Out, thus, to the holocausts and floods!"
"Out, thus, to the theosophist chaps!
   Fight apathy! Defy death!"
"Oh, the wilderness is paradise enow! (hiccup)"


All our enemies
   have opened their mouths against us.
Fear and a snare is come upon us,
   desolation and destruction.
Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water
   for the destruction of the daughter of my people.

Princess Diana, fiercely hounded with fame,
   cut out to visit Europe (and to ease notoriety).
Paris housed the environment
   of her autumn misfortune.
Pathos was her true end.
   Farewell, and go home, England's Rose.


Mine eye trickleth down, and ceaseth not,
   without any intermission.
Till the LORD look down,
   and behold from heaven.
Mine eye affecteth mine heart
   because of all the daughters of my city.

Rossetti (Christina, the lonely and child-like one of Kent)
   faced the malcontentment of youth;
Riddled with heartfelt infatuation,
   she coyly behooved us:
"Remember me when I am gone away."


Mine enemies chased me sore,
   like a bird, without cause.
They have cut off my life in the dungeon,
   and cast a stone upon me.
Waters flowed over mine head;
   then I said, I am cut off.

Wet, in a viciously deep
   ice floe, he sat mutely.
Watchmen aimed at a keen, unseen foe,
   cued a fife, too.
Washington crossed the infamous river.
   "Damn! O, damn the British," he fumed.


I called upon thy name, O LORD,
   out of the low dungeon.
Thou hast heard my voice:
   hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry.
Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee:
   thou saidst, Fear not.

Swedenborg was clearly an authentic
   church looney. Their poet? Ha!
So he emotionally vaunted the outdated
   Trinitarian myth to humanity, eh?
So? He fed the muddy ground after death.
   I plan to, too.


O LORD, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul;
   thou hast redeemed my life.
O LORD, thou hast seen my wrong:
   judge thou my cause.
Thou hast seen all their vengeance
   and all their imaginations against me.

You can Imagine, as Mr. Lennon told us,
   lots of good themes to value:
You may shame the religion-led Jehad's rule,
   shun theses of the aesthete, treat each man right.
You still wind up at home, dead. Such a drag.


Thou hast heard their reproach, O LORD,
   and all their imaginations against me;
The lips of those that rose up against me,
   and their device against me all the day.
Behold their sitting down, and their rising up;
   I am their musick.

Titus Andronicus, in a good theatric rage,
   gathers hotheaded Tamora's pale twins;
Then he giddily grills them and has them
   as a ritual midnight supper. ("Hie, hated mother!")
The inspiration for movie atrocities
   like "Hannibal"?


Render unto them a recompence, O LORD,
   according to the work of their hands.
Give them sorrow of heart,
   thy curse unto them.
Persecute and destroy them in anger
   from under the heavens of the LORD.

Uncomforted with tender love,
   we do achingly confront the dark storm,
Uttering, henceforth, the harsh sound
   of mighty harm.
Unredeemed - to escape the horror,
   as Poe's creature noted, nevermore.

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Updated: May 10, 2016


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