lament, 1

30 Sep

A dictionary defines lament as both a noun and a verb,

  1. The definition of lament is an expression of loss, sometimes through artistic expression.An example of a lament is The Book of Lamentations in the Old Testament of the Bible.


  1. Lament is defined as to feel loss, sorrow or regret, often expressed in a physical way.An example of lament is to feel sad and cry at a funeral.
  2. An example of lament is to wish you would have done something different with your life.

Another definition speaks of the artistic expression that a ‘lament’ creates from loss, grief or suffering. In the crime/murder novel ‘The Redbreast’, Jo Nesbo, the last sentence of chapter eight, at the book’s first part end reads: ‘He was still staring towards the booth when the relentless lament of the Volvo car horn behind sawed the day in two.’

The author chooses a key place to insert a lament, at the very end of the novel’s first section, subtitled ‘Earth to Earth.’ Harry Hole was, a Scandinavian policeman, has fired his weapon at another policeman erroneously thinking that person was as an assassin. His partner was to sound their car’s horn if she could identify as a policeman so he would not shoot. The external sound comes too late, and thus becomes Harry Hope’s lament, an internal cry that saws his soul in two.

Artistically, the author wants us to experience the character’s internal and the external despair at the same eternal moment. This grief comes at the book’s opening and will be the identifying trope of the character: a never ending grief; a despair; an internal world beyond any hope. The car’s sound can be heard, Harry’s cry cannot. It can only be represented by a screech.

The lament’s use here is a signpost to the essential and radical nature of lament: it is a cry that does not and will not end. It is overflow of deep sorrows that will continue through life and into death. Overflow in this context does not mean ‘waste’ but riches that flows out again and again to be of use, of never ceasing expression. Nesbo’s use of lament seeks to flow Harry’s unspoken cries, his self-silencing, into us, his readers, his feelers.

Laments overflow by their design, their. They are cries, sometimes with words, at times with groaning, or silences but they always flowing.

Laments are everlasting. Ever lasting.

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