A friend of mine has just given me a boatload of Armenian books and books about Armenian history and literature, including the Matyan Voghbergutyan (Book of Lamentation), often known simply as Narek after the monastery where its author, the late tenth and early eleventh century churchman Grigor Narekatsi, one of the great Armenian medieval writers, resided. I also received a copy of the English translation. Narekatsi’s poem is one of the greatest written works of Armenian Christian spirituality, a work of repentance and profound sorrow over sin. Consider these lines from the second lament:
I am the forsaken tabernacle on the verge of collapse;
The broken lock on a door;
The voiced edifice soiled anew;
The forlorn fitting inheritance;
The forgotten house built by God,
As foretold by Moses, David and Jeremiah.
Until now, I had not looked closely at the original. I will certainly try to make some time to work on this.