“How Long? Not Long!”

Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of several successive clauses that have different endings.

It is an element of classic rhetorical Idiomatic Lamentation as a structure of accusation and indictment in pursuit of remedial accountability.

“The Book of Lamentations is a collection of poetic laments for the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC…”


The Book of Lamentations expresses primal outrage and instructs how lacking in innocence (neutrality or objectivity) the representation of extreme events must be…

There’s no accountability without accusation…

The general insufficiency of language in the face of the horrors of the age arises out of the nature and magnitude of events that seem to defeat attempts at description and expression…

The Book of Lamentations
Zola’s “J’Accuse”
The Declaration of Independence
MLK’s “I Have a Dream”

Are literary examples of language that overcomes and transcends the limitations and deficiencies of common or ordinary written or spoken language.

Martin Luther King’s capacity to capture, in the lamentations of his speeches and writings, the evilness of evil and the painfulness of pain is unsurpassed to this day.

The direct line from the ancient Book of Lamentations to a speech of MLK is unmistakable:

Psalm 6
Key verse: Psalm 6:3, “My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?”

There has been no greater spokesperson for equality and justice in the history of this nation.

In honoring his legacy, it should be noted that his method and approach to making an accusatory case for equality and justice, ensconced in the effectiveness of rhetorical lamentation, is sorely missed as we search for ways to express the ‘primal outrage’ we feel at the horror of the recent attack on our nation’s democratic impulses and institutions and for which we, as ordinary citizens, can find no words.