So you want to write a lament poem to mourn someone you loved? You can just follow your heart, but if you don’t know where to start…then start with this outline derived from David’s lament for Saul and Jonathon (2 Samuel 1:19-27).
I. Introduce your loved one as a symbol using two lines. Here is the example from 2 Samuel 1:19. (The gazelle symbolizes an important figure.)
“A gazelle lies slain on your heights, Israel.
How the mighty have fallen!”
II. Use four lines to explain how his or her death will affect the world. In the case of Saul and Jonathon, their death would cause their enemies to rejoice. See 2 Samuel 1:20 below.
“Tell it not in Gath,
proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon,
lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad,
lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.
III. Use four lines to give details of the death. In 2 Samuel 1:21, David curses the place that the death occurred.
“Mountains of Gilboa,
may you have neither dew nor rain,
may no showers fall on your terraced fields.
For there the shield of the mighty was despised,
the shield of Saul—no longer rubbed with oil.
IV. Use eight lines to describe your loved one’s character. David describes their fierceness, skill, and bravery in battle (2 Samuel 1:22-23).
“From the blood of the slain,
from the flesh of the mighty,
the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
the sword of Saul did not return unsatisfied.
Saul and Jonathan—
in life they were loved and admired,
and in death they were not parted.
They were swifter than eagles,
they were stronger than lions.
V. Use four lines to describe the good he or she did in their lifetime. David recalls the riches that Israel enjoyed while Saul was king (2 Samuel 1:24).
“Daughters of Israel,
weep for Saul,
who clothed you in scarlet and finery,
who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold.
VI. Use four lines to describe how you loved the person. David and Jonathon were close friends, and this becomes evident as we read 2 Samuel 1:25-26.
“How the mighty have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
more wonderful than that of women.
V. Using the last two lines, repeat one of the lines in the first stanza. For the first line of his last stanza, David repeats the 2nd line of the first stanza. Then he adds another short line to close out this last stanza (2 Samuel 1:27).
“How the mighty have fallen!
The weapons of war have perished!”
This versatile outline can be used to write laments for any event that caused you to feel abandoned such as a breakup or divorce. There is no better place to get inspired than God’s own Word. If you wrote a masterpiece and would like to have a chance at getting it published, see Draw Near’s guidelines.