The Epic of Gilgamesh

Mighty Gilgamesh
wisest of all
he knew the mysteries of secret things
the countries of the world

He brings us a tale from the days before the flood
when he went on that long weary journey

No one could withstand the strength of mighty Gilgamesh
and he ravaged Uruk
taking the virgins for himself
and the men

the Shepherd of the city
the people complained

and the Gods
they heard their lamentation
and so the gods of heaven cried to the Lord of Uruk
Anu

“Gilgamesh was fashioned from a goddess
he is as strong as a bull, none can withstand him
no sons are left to their fathers
no virgins lust left for their husbands
is this the King, the Shepherd?”

Anu heard these divine cries

then Aruru, goddess of creation heard the call
“you have made him, and so
now create an equal for him
a second half
stormy heart for stormy heart
let them be together and so leave Uruk
in peace”

And so, the goddess with that image in mind
took of the stuff of Anu
the clay
and mixed it with water
and let it fall in the wild

and so Enkidu came into existence.

Enkidu was like a god, like Ninurta himself!
his body rough, long hair like a woman
covered from head to toe with matted hair

he was innocent
he knew nothing of man’s ways

A wild man

Enkidu ate the grasslands
and rollicked with the gazelles
he lurked with the wild beasts at the watering holes
and enjoyed the herds and wild game

One day he met a trapper face to face
and the trapper was stricken with fear
at this man, this beast, stronger than any other
who destroyed his traps
setting the beasts free

The trapper lamented to his father
who said

“Go to Uruk and see Gilgamesh
he will deal with this beast of a man.
Ask for a beautiful woman
a lover a seducer a mistress
let her come here
and her womanly wiles will overpower
this man beast you speak of”

“Let him see her bathing
naked in the cooling drinking waters
and when he sees her and they
join in embrace
the wild beasts, his friends, will reject him
as man”

The trapper set out on his journey

he explained to Gilgamesh of this man
strong as the stars in the heavens

and so Gilgamesh gave him a beautiful
young but experienced woman
to tame him

seeing Enkidu

“there he is! now, reveal your breasts!”

“teach him your womanly art”

and so, she took him
welcoming his eagerness

and they spoke love
for six days
and seven nights

and Enkidu forgot about his
residence in the hilly skies
and mountain passes

satisfied

Enkidu went back to the gazelles
the wild beasts

but they fled from him
they could smell man on him

he tried to follow them
bolting away
but he knees could not bend
like they used
to

his strength was gone
and his quickness
his agility

He was weak, for wisdom was
in his heart
and the thoughts of a man

the woman explained
“You are wise now, Enkidu
no longer must you run with
the animals
you will be like a God

Come with me, I will take
you to Uruk with its
mighty walls and temples
and love for the heavens

and there, there is Gilgamesh
the most strong
a wild bull
lording over men”

Enkidu was pleased
by these soothing words

he desired a brother
in arms
a comrade
to share in his being

“Come, woman, take
me to this place
the place of Anu this
Uruk and I
will confront
Gilgamesh
and challenge him boldly!”

“For I am of the hills
and so I must be the
strongest
stronger than this
Gilgamesh”

“Oh, how you will enjoy
the city Enkidu
for there the people dress
in fine robes and every day
is a holiday.

You will see Gilgamesh
in his beauty
his manhood
his strength and maturity
and you will have
found your match

for he has been
blessed by Shamash
the sun-god.”

Gilgamesh dreamed about
Enkidu

telling his mother Ninsun,
the wise goddess

“Mother, I saw a meteor
of the stuff of Anu
fall from the heavens
and when I tried to lift
it it was too heavy

and I was deeply attracted
to it like the love
for a woman.”

Ninsun replied,
“This heavenly star
is your new brother
a strong wild creature
someone to contend
with you

born of the grass
and the hills
and mountains
and skies

he will forever be
dear to your heart.”

Then, Gilgamesh said

“But mother, I too have had a second dream
there is an axe in strong-walled Uruk city
which I lift and hold with
me carrying forever”

“This too is that wild man
Enkidu
this is the meaning”

and Gilgamesh understood
his dreams.

The seductive mistress woman
dressed Enkidu in clothes
and told him

“Get up from the ground
be a man!”

Enkidu went into the shepherds’
tents and there he
saw bread and wine
and didn’t know what to
do

for he had been reared
on wild animal milk

The woman said to him
eat bread, the staff of life
and drink the wine, for this is
the custom of man

and so he did and his face
filled with passion and emotion
and he became merry

and he smoothed his course
hair over his body
and exalted himself pouring
oil christening himself

shining brilliantly

Enkidu had become
Man!

And Enkidu took up
bow and arrow and spear
and went and hunted
lions so the shepherds
could live in peace.

He was their Watchman
a Man with no rival

and he lived happily
with the shepherds
til one day he was
told of a man

this Gilgamesh

who in the city of Uruk
reigned supreme

insisting on taking
all women as his first
before their grooms

this man of Gods
this Gilgamesh

And Enkidu
hearing this
said

I will challenge him
this man this
Gilgamesh

I will say to him
“I have come to bring
down your rule
for I am the strongest
of all!”

and he walked through
Uruk the great market place
and the people looked
at him and said
“Why, he is the spitting image
of Gilgamesh, a bit shorter though,
a bit more meat on his bones.”

“This must be the one reared
by wild animals,
with the utmost brute strength!”

And the men rejoiced!
at last, Gilgamesh will have met
his match

and then when the bride
was waiting for Gilgamesh
to take her

Enkidu came and
met with him
putting his foot out
preventing him
from entering the house

and they did
wrestle grapple
like two bulls
horns locked
the ramparts shook

and Gilgamesh bent his knee
and tossed Enkidu over his hip
and the fury died out

Enkidu thrown
said
“There is none other like you in
all the world Gilgamesh
you are surely the son
of Ninsun”

and they embraced
in deep friendship

Enkidu and Gilgamesh stayed together
and Enlil
the father of the gods
the mountain god
had decread Gilgamesh’s fate

and Gilgamesh dreamed
and Enkidu told him
you have been given
this ability to be king
but remember
you are not a god
just a mortal
and so you will eventually die

therefore, act justly
do not abuse your power
below the light of the heavens

and then, Enkidu’s own eyes
filled with tears for he said

“How I miss roaming freely
in the wilderness, how strong
I was, but now my arms
are without their strength
the sorrow sticks in my throat.”

“What am I to do?”

and Gilgamesh cried out!

“Let us go to the Country of the Living
in the Land of Cedars,
I have yet to make a name for myself
but there I will
as destiny decrees.

I will go where the Cedars fall
and I will stamp my name
in that place
I will raise monuments to the Gods!”

“Yes, there is evil in that land
and together let us go
and we will destroy it
we will kill the great forest giant
Humbaba!”

Enkidu sighed a great sigh
Humbaba is terrible to behold
all flesh must quiver in front
of this massive creature

When he roars it is like
hailstorms
his breath is like a dragon
his jaws are the gates
of death itself

He guards the Cedars so
well no man nor beat
can stir within

What man would voluntarily
enter his lands?
He must have suicide
in his mind
for death will soon be at hand.

“I tell you Gilgamesh
he is the Watchman of the forest
he never sleeps.
Please, reconsider the meaning
of your dreams
of your destiny
for Humbaba will surely bring
you to an end
quickly.”

To this, Gilgamesh replied

“Only the gods live forever, we must all fall in our own ways
our days being numbered
we are but breaths of wind.

How is it you, mighty Enkidu, are already in such fear?”
Forward, there is nothing to fear!

Though I am your lord, I will lead the way.

And so, if i come to die
the people will say
there lies Gilgamesh
who fought to his last breath
against the horrible terrible
Humbaba
without fear

and my name will live on
immortal.”

And so, Gilgamesh cried
to Shamash
let me go! I have seen the plight of man to die
to wither away to wind up floating
bodies in the river bed

I who cannot reach the heavens
will do all I can
to perform the greatest sacrifice
to give you upon the altar
that which you deserve

I will go to the Land of Cedars.

And Shamash heard him and
accepted this sacrifice of
teary eyes
showing him great compassion
and so

he stationed men in the mountains
and told the great winds
what to do
and the ice
and the scorching
vipers
serpents
floods and lightening
to protect great Gilgamesh in this
journey

And arms were made of deep boughs
the Axe of Heroes and the bow
for Gilgamesh and Enkidu to wear
and carry into this battle

and Gilgamesh told the people of Uruk in the
marketplace
of his plans and they said

“Gilgamesh, we fear for your life
for Humbaba is so mighty
and the forests stretch outwards for ten thousand leagues
in all directions!
Who would go on such a fateful quest?”

Gilgamesh turning to Enkidu
laughing
what shall I say to them?
That I am afraid?

Never!

let us go to Egalmah and speak with Ninsun
our great queen and she will
tell us in in her wisdom
what she thinks of this journey

Beautiful Ninsun dressed in jewels
with her heaving breasts
and skirt swept ground behind
her

saying to Shamash
“Why have you made Gilgamesh
so maddened in his heart
desiring to do such a deed?
Protect him!
keep him safe in the night’s day”

and she said to Enkidu

“You strong Enkidu will be like
my adopted son and so must
protect Gilgamesh
serve him
I trust you”

and placing the amulet around his
neck
they left

armed with scabbards bows quivers
and axes slung
from shoulders
swords
and unspoken words
they prepared

the counsellors of the city
telling Gilgamesh to be careful
to protect each other
they said “Let Enkidu lead the way
for he knows the ways of the forest
better he has seen Humbaba
and is experience din battle.”

“May Shamash protect you!”

may you both be protected
and have land to travel over smoothly
and clean water to drink deeply

and then Enkidu said
“Forward Onward! There is nothing
to fear, follow me!”

Together they crossed
seven mountains
before coming to the forest’s gates

and then Enkidu lost his strength
but Gilgamesh said
“Dear Friend, now is not the time
to be a coward. Forward! Onward!
do we turn back now,
no, you have been in wars
and battles before
stay close to me
and you will fear not
death
let weakness pass
let your hand again become strengthened”

“Forget death and follow me
to greatness
to eternity”

They stood in awe
going down into the forest
at the green mountains
the forest
the Cedars
the dwelling-place of the gods

and Gilgamesh prayed
making an offering to the gods
and dreamed
of seizing hold of a wild bull
in this wilderness
beating up dust
til the whole sky was darkened
arm seized
tongue bitten
falling back
but refreshed by the waters
of the water-skin

And Enkidu explained the dream
the bull is but Shamash who
will protect us
and the one giving you water
was your own god Lugulbanda
together with them
we will accomplish our famed
task at hand.

Gilgamesh said
I dream again
“We were deep in the mountain’s
gorge when the mountain caved
in on our heads
but then we were seized
by a bright light
blazing
with great beauty
pulling me out from under
giving me water
heart comforted
feet once again
planted firmly on the ground”

Enkidu explained this dream
too a good omen
the mountain was none other
than Humbaba whom will
fall at your hand
his body thrown down
like the mountain over the plain

Days and days
leagues they travelled
relieving themselves as needed
and Gilgamesh poured out fine meal and prayed
that Enkidu might receive a favorable dream
too

but then Enkidu did have an ominous dream
and Gilgamesh too was overtaken by
mortal sleep
and writhing in the night air
like barley under the whisps of rain
falling tumultuously

Terror the heavens roaring
lightning thunder
fire blazing clouds lowering
rains of death
brightness gone
ashes all around

Then, they went axe in hand
down the mountain side
and felled a cedar
which Humbaba heard
from far off

enraged

crying aloud
“Who dares cut down my
wood? my Cedar!”

but Shamash
said
do not be afraid
“Go Forward!”

but Gilgamesh was overcome with weakness
with sleep
as if in a dream
Enkidu touching him but he would not rise
speaking to him but no reply

Enkidu cried “O Gilgamesh the world becomes dark
how long will you lie like this
Shamash has departed from us”

Gilgamesh was roused! he said
“I am Ninsun’s son and I will move Onward! Forward!
by the life of my father divine Lugulbanda may
the Country of the Living
not lead back to the city
until we have fought this man, if man he be,
or god whoever he
this Humbaba!”

Enkidu then said
“O lord, you do not know him
this monstrosity and that is why
you do not feel the fear
that I do
his teeth are like a dragon
his countenance
a lion
he crushes everything in his path
snapping trees in half
you may go on if you choose
but I will go back to the city.”

Gilgamesh said
“No, Enkidu, death is not for me
it does not lie in store
you will not tell the people of
my great fall
not now

Give me your aid
and together you shall
have mine forever
we will take down this vile creature
this Humbaba

for we must all die
but not today
not us”

“Throw away your fear!
Take your axe
and let us attack
for we cannot leave
this journey
unsettled
with peace escaping
from our hearts discontent”

Then, Humbaba came out
in strides from
his Cedar housing
and Enkidu said

“Gilgamesh, remember your boasts
in Uruk Forward! attack
because yes truthfully
there is nothing
nothing

to fear”

with courage in his breasts
they moved in
the watchman
mustn’t vanish
we will put an end to him

he has but put on one of his
seven splendorous armors
not the other six
let us trap him thence

a raging bull
snuffing the ground
while the Watchman of the woods
full of threatening
cried out loud

Humbaba

nodding his head
shaking it menacingly at Gilgamesh
fastening on him that eye
the eye of death

Gilgamesh said to great Shamash
tears in his eyes
“I have followed the road
of destiny
please protect me
summon up the winds and the
storms and the tempest
dragons and serpent
freezing hearts
the floods and lightning’s forks”

and the winds were raised
against Humbaba and beat
against his eyes
gripping him in their
terrific pressurized
pounding

and Gilgamesh proclaimed
“by Ninsun and divine Lugulbanda
my father
in this here Country
of the Living I have
discovered your forest
dwelling
and with my small weapons
I will enter your residence
and put an end to
your menace!”

Humbaba

And so, Gilgamesh did fell the first
cedar
and Humbaba was outrage

and his terror was felt
seven blazes each coming out of his
lair

slapping his thing
scornfully
approaching the noble wild bull
with tears in his eyes
for he could not
withstand

Humbaba

was at their mercy
and so he did speak
to them

“Gilgamesh, I knew no mother
nor father I was born here
in these mountains
they reared me
Enlil making me the keeper
of these forest Cedars.”

“have pity on me
do not kill me
but let me continue
tending these trees
and I shall cut down
many to build for you a true
palace”

and he took Gilgamesh
by the hand and Humbaba
let his heart be moved
by compassion

and he swore
by heavens and the earth
and everywhere
to be freed

but Enkidu responded
“We must kill him
for if we do not
he will kill us
that is the way these
things are to be

He will bar the mountain roads
against us
making it impossible
impassible
disaster”

Humbaba retorted “Enkidu!
What evil you speak
you are just a servant
dependent on he for
your daily bread
What do you know of such things?”

but Enkidu insisted
“Gilgamesh, you must kill him
him and his servants
I assure you
this is what must be
if we are to leave
this place in posterity”

And so Gilgamesh listening
to his companion
trusted in him
and took his axe
and sword
and thrust them into Humbaba
killing him
and Enkidu following suit

and there was confusion in the forests
for their Watchman was slain
shivers running through the leagues of trees

and so they continued
moving through felling trees
and clearing their roots
as far as Euphrates

and they laid Humbaba before the gods
Enlil
kissing the ground dropping his head
before him
and Enlil raged

“Why did you do this thing?
From hence forward you will have
fire on your faces
this will be your bread and drink!”

And Gilgamesh washed his long
dreads and cleansed
his weapons of their
blood
flinging back his hair over
his shoulders
changing his stained clothes
for new ones

He put on his royal robes and the crown
and the glorious Ishtar saw the beauty
in his face
requesting his seed
offering to make a chariot
of lapis lazuli
and golden wheels
coppertone
to ensnare storm demons to move
it forward

“I will give you all things
and you will be king
ruler and prince
here in these mountain plains
with oxen
and mules
and no rivals
capable of doing
unto you.”

And Gilgamesh did reply,
Ishtar I would be happy
to give you gifts in return
bread and wine
but of making you my wife
this I must
decline

“for it is known that to others
you have acted coldly
brutally with brutality
and fear
like a storm and winds
and castles crushed
to smitherines
and this is nothing
that I desire.”

“For you have been
unable to
love another forever
you always turn upon
them
upon your shepherds
Tammuz whom you made
wail
the lion
the pit you dug for him
the stallion most magnificent
who you whipped and spurred
to gallop seven leagues
before drinking muddied water.”

again and again
countless these men
brought down by your fickleness
Ishullanu dear Ishullanu
no more you get
the picture
I will not take
you as my wife
or lover
for why would I want to encounter
such disaster
myself?

And Ishtar hearing this fell
into the most bitter rage
tears pouring down
in front of father Anu
“Dear Father, Gilgamesh heaps these insults upon me
so

reminding me of these abominable
acts, of which he knows

Give me the Bull of Heaven so I may destroy Gilgamesh!
dear father
fill him with arrogance so that he is led to his destruction
or else I will cause great chaos
smashing the doors of hell
so there will be confusion amongst the people
the above and the lower intermingled
I will bring the dead to eat amongst the living
and overwhelm them.

And so, Anu replied to Ishtar if I do what you say
then there will be seven years of drought in Uruk
have you saved enough grain for the people and cattle?

“I have”

and so, Anu gave her the Bull of Heaven
to be lead to Uruk
and with his first snorts the cracks opened in the earth
and a hundred men were soon felled dead within
and again and again
and Enkidu was doubled over too
but instantly recovering dodging aside
leaping on the Bull
seizing it by
the horns.

The Bull of Heaven foamed
brushing him with its tail
Enkidu crying aloud to Gilgamesh
“We must do as we’ve said and leave behind enduring names
take your sword and thrust it into its nape.”
and Gilgamesh did
seizing it by the tale
and thrusting in.

and they killed the Bull and cut out its heard
offering it to Shamash
and finding their rest

Ishtar rising mounting the Uruk walls
springing from the tower cursing
“Woe to you Gilgamesh! For scorning me
for killing the Bull of Heaven!”

Enkidu tore the bulls thigh and tossed it
at her face saying
“I would kill you if I could reach you
vile Woman!”

and the people admired the horns
of the slain bull
made of lapis lazuli
dedicated to the guardian God
Lugulbanda.

And they washed their hands
embracing each other
driving through the streets
of Uruk as the heroes that they were.

And Gilgamesh calling to the girls
who is the greatest? And them
responding back “Gilgamesh!”

and they feasted
joyously
and rest
entered them

With daylight Enkidu arouse
and said to Gilgamesh
“Brother, what a dream I had!
Together the gods Anu, Enlil, Ea and Shamash
counseled each other and because of our
killing of the Bull of Heaven and Humbaba
they declared that one of us
must die!”

“O brother, they will take me from
you
I will forever be lain on the altar
of the dead
never to see you again.”

and Enkidu was sickened
cursing the gate “dull wood
I searched for you in those Cedars
precious wood
perfection seventy two by twenty four
perfect for the ferrule and the jambs

but if only I had known this
fateful conclusion!”

“If only I had known I would have smashed you to pieces
let some other king inherit this so called fortune
this curse, so Enkidu, me, can be
free”

and Enkidu wept before the Sun God
cursing the trapper and cursing
that seductive beautiful young woman too
for he had once been wild
and free
and now was ready to be killed
to die
to go forever asleep

Shamash hearing these words
called to him from the heavens
“Enkidu, why do you curse this woman
she taught you how to be a man!
she taught you of bread and the drinks
of the gods
covering you in beautiful splendid fine robes
and giving you your companion Gilgamesh
whom otherwise you wouldn’t have known.”

“And when you die, the people of Uruk
will mourn for you and celebrate you
and Gilgamesh will grow out his hair.”

and so Enkidu’s heart grew quiet
and he called back his curses
promising the woman a good
destiny
to be worshipped
by princes and kings

And Enkidu spoke to his friend
of his sickened heart

“It was I who cut down the cedar
who killed Humbaba
and look what is to be!”

“Listen to my dream, the heavens roaring
earth rumbling and then there was me
this awful being approached
by this vampire with a lions foot
and an eagle’s talon for a hand
felling me with claws
in my eyes
smothering me
so that I too became this man-bird thing
with wings and feathers
and so I was led to Irkalla, Queen of Darkness,
the house from which no
one may return
a road with no end”

“Sitting there in darkness, with dust as food
and clay as meat, clothed winged-bird-things
no light in sight
all the kings of men
no longer crowned
rulers, princes, of the days of old
once god-like now servants of nothingness
Etana king of Kish there
and Samuqan god of cattle
all

and of course the Queen Ereshkigal reading
her book of the dead
this is my dream
from which I awoke blood rushing
heart pounding with terror.”

And Gilgamesh took off his clothes
weaping tears
flowing forth
streaming of course
mouth opened speaking
to Enkidu so

“There is no one in Uruk
with such wisdom
you speak these strange things
marvelous dream
but terrible still
let us treasure it
though it says misery comes
even to the man of health
for all life ends in sorrow”

“I will pray to the Gods”

and Enkidu lay sick
saying to Gilgamesh
“Once I went with you, out of the wilderness
in search of greatness, and now I am
nothing.”

Ten days he lay here
wasting away
eleven twelve, bed of pain
saying “The goddess has cursed me
and so I die here in shame
not a man fallen courageously in battle
but sickened and weak.”

“Praise to the man who dies in glorious
battle! Unlike me”

And Gilgamesh wept.

And Gilgamesh said to the councelors
of Uruk:

“Here me, I weap for my dear friend
Enkidu my brother
axe at my side
the strength of my hand the sword at my belt
the shield of my eye

Curse this evil Fate which has taken him from me!
the wild ass the gazelle
his father and mother
we all must weep for you now

Weaping in the plains
and pastures
your path in that loving
forest of cedars

night Day

we may

all weap for you this day
and many more!

My dear brother
let your name

roar and echo
throughout the countryside!”

“The beasts slain
the river-paths walked
the water-skins draught
as warriors of strength
in these walled Uruk cities
Bull of Heaven killing

We weep
and pour our meal on the ground
and oil

That harlot

go then
you long-haired men of men

What is this sleep embracing
you as I once did?

Lost in the darkness
can you not hear me still?”

And Gilgamesh touched his heart
but it was without beating
his eyes no longer lifting
the veil of tears
beholden

and he paced back and forth
tearing his hair
strewing it on the ground
dragging his robes
flinging them
forth
into misery

and Gilgamesh let out a monstrous Cry
and he teared his hair and clothes
and swore
and would wander
with lion’s skin on his shoulder
through the wilderness
seven days and seven night
lamenting
til the worms feasted on his
dear friend
the earth having seized him
for Anunnaki’s
judgment had been written.

And Gilgamesh wept bitterly
and roamed through the
country the plains
crying “What peace can I find in my heart
when my brother now lay dead.”

“This death I fear so
and so
I will go
and find Utnapishtim whom the gods
took after the flood
this Faraway man
who has entered the assembly of them”

“Yes, I will go to Dilmun
the garden in the sun
to find him alone men whose
been granted
life everlasting.”

Through the grasslands he took
this long journey of searching
and at night with the mountain pass in front
of him praying “before I have seen lions
I now fear let me lift my eyes
to the moonlight
and hope that the god Sin shall
protect me within”

and he slept and dreamed
seeing the lions surrounding him with glory
axe in hand sword drawn
he fell upon them
scattering

and so he made his way finally
to Mashu the great mountains
of which he’d heard so much
guarding the rising and setting sun.

With its twin peaks as high as the walls of heaven
and reaching down below
into the underworld too
with Scorpions at the gate standing guard
half men half dragon terrifying
stares capable of striking down men
shimmering halos sweeping the mountainside

And Gilgamesh shielded his eyes
and with courageousness
approached and they spoke to themselves
“This man is of the gods, yes 2/3rds for sure
but 1/3rd mere mortal.”

Calling to him, Gilgamesh “Why have you made
this great journey for what reason
do you travel so far away?
crossing these treacherous watery pathways”

“For Enkidu, whom I loved dearly
together we
enduring the most pain and pleasure
that can be shared
between men on this earth land

for him i have come for he has been
taken i wept for him but he did not return
and since then my life has been nothing
this is why i since travel to Utnapishtim
whom men say has been able to enter
the assembly of the gods.”

“I desire to question him about these
things of living
men and death itself”

and the Man-Scorpion said
“No mortal man has done what you desire
for to go under the mountain
is to pass twenty leagues in darkness
the heart of it”

but Gilgamesh was not deterred
“Although I will go in sorrow and in pain
weeping evermore sill I must
go there and so
open your Gates to this mountain
pass!”

and the Scorpion-Man said
“Go, then I wish you the best
may your feet bring you home
safe
in the end”

And so Gilgamesh did follow the sun’s road
through the mountain
going one league in the darkness
when it became so thick around him
he could see neither in front
nor behind
nothing found but solitude there

two leagues three
four and five still
darkness and nothing more

six and seven and eight
nine ten eleven

finally finally the light
coming to be
before his eyes

after this most arduous
subterranean journey

streaming into his
pupils and Iris

there in that twelfth league
he did see that garden of the gods
bearing glorious gems lapis lazuli leaves!

no thorns nor thistles
just the haematite and rare stones
agate and pearls washed
in from the sea.

and Shamash saw him
and said “No man has ever
come this way
or gone
you will not for you are mortal
and cannot escape death’s
grasp.”

Gilgamesh responding
“after all this am I to lie down
and let the earth cover over
my head?
No, I must press on and see
the sun and let is shine
blindingly in my eyes
and upon my head”

There, beside the sea lives the woman
of the vine maker of sweet wine
Siduri at the garden’s edge
with golden bowl and vat
given by the gods

and seeing Gilgamesh approaching
wearing the skins of a lion
and disparing
but with godness in him
this long journeyman
she looked
and from her heart said

“Where does he go?”

and so, she barred the gate
against him shooting
the bolt through the corridor
but Gilgamesh lodged
then his foot
in between the gate
and said “beautiful woman
sweet maker of wine
why bolt the door against me?”

“What did you see?”

“I will break your door, for I am
Gilgamesh who killed the Bull of
Heaven
and killed the Watchman
of the Forest
and overthrew
him Humbaba
and killed lions
under mountain passes!”

to which she then
responded
if you are that man
that Gilgamesh then why
is your face so
weather-worn
and why is it burned
and why do you search for the wind?

Gilgamesh replying
“Why shouldn’t my face look
like this, for it is despair
that fills me
I have been on a long journey
I have bore the cold and the heat
the winds and rains
why should I not seek the wind
when my dear friend
and younger brother
the wild ass of the wilderness
panther of the plains
who killed the Bull
and Humbaba
in cedar forests dear to me more
than anyone else
possibly
did die
overtaken by this mortal
coil”

“And now, fearing death myself
I must wander and grieve”

“And you, maker of sweet wine
now that I’ve seen your face
do not let me too see the face
of death”

And she said
“Gilgamesh, why do you hurry about
when you know you will never
find that eternal life
you are human
this is a fact
and so just fill your belly
and rest content
knowing that day
and night you may be merry
and feast
and live joyfully
for that’s all there can
be for a mortal
like you.”

But Gilgamesh replied to Siduri

“How can I be so, when Enkidu is now dust
ash
and I too shall find my remains hidden
below in the earthly cavernous home”

“You who live by the sea’s shores
tell me now
which is the way to Utnapishtim?
please give me directions
for I will cross the Ocean
if necessary.”

but she replied
“Gilgamesh, there is no crossing the Ocean
only the Sun Shamash is able to accomplish
this
the waters are too deep
you will come to the waters of death
and what then?”

“But in the woods there you will find Urshanabi
the ferryman
with his precious stones and holy things
he may be able to take you through
to cross over the waters
but if not then its all over”

Gilgamesh seized with anger
took axe in hand
and dagger

and fell on these sacred things
these ornaments and vessels

and Urshanabi couldn’t
believe
the tackle destroyed
the boat handicapped

he said “tell me, what is your name?”

“Gilgamesh of Uruk”

Urshanabi said, “but why are your
cheeks so weather-worn?”

“Why shouldn’t they be?
Why shouldn’t I show the ways
of long arduous journey
for that is what has become of me
after my best friend’s passing
I have traveled and toiled long
and hard and
now please
show me the way
forward

I must cross the waters to reach Utnapishtim
or else continue wandering forever
in the wilderness.”

“But Gilgamesh with your own hands
you have destroyed the boat for crossing
the waters
these protectors of Oceanic voyage
so then,
go into the forest and cut down
forest
and make axe cut poles one hundred
and twenty painted with bitumen
so as to ready them once
again for traveling”

and He did
and they boarded
the boat
prepared to launch out over the Ocean
and finally after a month and fifteen
they made their way to the waters of death

and Urshanabi said “Do not let your hand touch the waters
of death!”

and they did make it
then to the place of Utnapishtim
the Faraway
in Dilum the place of the Sun’s movement
east of the mountains

he alone whom the gods gave eternal life

And Utnapishtim asked
why does the boat sail without tackle and mast
and who is this man following Urshanabi
with weather-worn face
and wearing the skins of lions?

“I am Gilgamesh”

and why is your face like that?
“Why should it be any different
when I have been suffering so
because of my dear friend”

“I have travelled far
through the mountains seeing Siduri
making sweet wines
and crossing the great Ocean
with the Ferryman to finally
come to hear the wisdom
of Utnapishtim who
has been said to have entered the assembly
of the gods.”

“Tell me, how can I find the life
I so desire to have?”

“But Gilgamesh, I tell you this, there is no
permanence
does a house stand forever?
do contracts hold always?
Do floods last without end?
No,
that isn’t
the way

there is no permanence
the sleeping is a foretelling of death
for all must die
as Anunnaki the judges have come together
and decided the fate of men
though they do not say
when”

“But how is it then that you have
come to possess the everlasting
life of the gods?”

“I will reveal to you a mystery
a great secret”
spoke Utnapishtim

and so he said

“You know the city Shurrupak, on the banks of the
Euphrates
it had grew old and its gods old too
Anu and Enlil and Ninurta and Ennugi and Ea
the world was teeming
people multiplicity bellowing like a wild bull
and the great gods
were disturbed
by this commotion below
Enlil said to them

“This human uproar this outrage
is too much I can no longer sleep
this babelling brook with no end”

and so the Gods decided
that human kind must
come to an end.

And it was whispered to me
to build a house of Reeds
a house-boat it seems
that would save me
from this disaster awaiting.

And I was given the dimensions
and performed the duty
building the ark to survive
the raging sea.”

“and what shall I say to the city-people
their elders and so?” I asked
and was told
to explain how Enlil was wrathful
and so I needed to go
where no other would go
down to the Gulf to dwell
with Ea my lord.

I was told to tell them
of the rains coming
as abundance raw fish
and fowl a harvest indeed
and wheat row upon row
of it golden

and so, my household and I went then
and prepared the planking
the decking of this great
big house-boat of Reed
to sustain ourselves
and keep passing amongst
the coming rains

oil and caulk wine
and water taken there
along with the different life forms
I myself annointed
and then on the seventh day
there was rest

launching that ship filled with my kin
my family and beasts wild and tame
from the fields and plains
and the craftsmen
carpenters

the time came
the rain terrible terrifying outside
inside though all was dry
prepared for the onslaught
I handed Puzur-Amurri the oarsman
navigation of this boat

And the light came
breaking through the black clouds
on the distant horizon
thunder from Adad
and the gods of the abyss
and Nergal and Ninurta
all of these war-lords doing
what was to be done

these seven judges of hell, Annunaki
raising their torches
their lightning
to reign down upon
mankind

the flood so terrifying even
the gods quivered then
and Ishtar Queen of Heaven crying out
the days past
turned to ash
to dust because I command it to be so
I created the world people
and so I will bring them to nothing
more than dead fish atop the Ocean
if that is what I desire to do.

And the gods weaping
six days and seven nights winds blowing
the torrents the tempests the flooding
inundating the world over

finally the seventh day the waters
stilled silence
across the face of the sea
all mankind turned to clay

I looked for dry land
and then there was a mountain
and the boat did land
tears streaming from my face

Seven days mounted on mount
Nisin I released the dove letting her go
to fly away
but she found no resting place
the raven loosened
did not return

and so then did I take those
seven cauldrons the libations
and set up that sacrifice
that altar to the gods
of cane and cedar and myrtle

and Ishtar lifting her jewels the lapis lazuli
remembering these days
all the gods to remember then
except Enlil who brought the flood
and bringing people destruction
no longer there

He came Enlil seeing the boat
swelled with anger at a mortal escaping
not intended by him
and Ninurta said to him
only Ea could do such a thing
so complete he has the most wisdom
and Ea said to Enlil,

“You, Enlil, so wise yet bringing
down this flood this destruction?
We must bring sin to the sinner
transgression to the transgressor
but not make him perish
this is too much
for their are lions and wolves
and famines and disease
that will check the wrath of men
in their paths for us
naturally”

And so, Enlil went into our boat
and took us me and my wife
and said that we would be
blessed
that this man myself
Utnapishtim should no longer
be mortal but would live
then at a distance at the
mouth of the river
here

his power clear

“But for yourself, Gilgamesh
who will assemble the Gods
to make such a request
to receive divine life because
it is only them only who are
capable of granting such
a wish fully
but foolish
he who thinks
as a mere mortal
he can take
it with his
own dying hands.”

“Nevertheless, come with me and pass this test
stay awake six days
seven nights
and then we will see whether your dream
your desire will find completion.”

But just then Gilgamesh rested
and a mist of sleepy soft woolen
teasing blew over him
and Utnapishtim could only turn to his wife and speak
look at him then, mighty man, unable to stay
awake not even for the sake
of everlasting eternity”

And she said to wake him so he may
go back to Uruk in peace
but Utnapishtim knew men are so easy to deceive
and so he told her
to bake loaves of bread and put them by his
head for every day there
he slept.

She did this marking it on the wall
bread becoming hard and cold like leather
and soggy in turn, mouldy
mildew
the last ones still fresh tough
so that when Utnapishtim awoke Gilgamesh
he was able to see clearly
despite his protests to barely sleeping
that indeed
six nights had passed
and now the seventh
shown brightly the baked loaf
on the fire’s embers

And so, Gilgamesh asked
of him “Utnapishtim, what shall I do?
Where shall I go?”

and he banished Urshanabi from these
shores for having brought him there
but Gilgamesh he had washed
and cleansed
so his beautiful body could show again
so that he could make his way
back to the Uruk city
journey completed
whatever the end

And then his wife
did say “Give something to him
this Gilgamesh man who is
so weary so that he may
make it back safely”

and so Utnapishtim
the Faraway told him
about a special secret
a plant growing underwater
which would restore the
lost youth to this old
growing weary man

Gilgamesh did then cut
open a channel in the
sweet waters
to be brought down
and tied heavy stones
to his feet
for he wanted to
find that plant
growing prickly
and eat of its
sweet sweet
fleshy meat

and Gilgamesh
proclaimed this thing prickled
pear would be given a gift
to the elders of Uruk
and called that which
makes Old Men Young Again
and then finally afterwards
he too
would eat of this
fruit
and have his lost youth.

And so, they travelled
together passed the leagues
rushing
of this sea

and he saw a well
of cooling thirst-quenching
soothing waters
and there he layed
down but a serpent
was there too
who did smell the sweetness
of that flower
and rose out of the water
to snatch it away
from him
sloughing his skin

And Gilgamesh wept
the tears streaming

“O, Urshanabi, was it for
nothing that I toiled so?
that i gave of my heart?
for the beast has taken
what was to be mine.”

And Gilgamesh came back
and showed Urshanabi
the walls of Uruk
those great walls with the burnt brick stone
masonry how great they were
which he had made.

back then before
the days
where now he lay in wisdom
with this story and the mysteries
to write down this tale
for us to hear

Destiny fulfilled
for it was not meant to be
that he would be living
eternally
for Gilgamesh mighty as he
is is still a
man
mortal
living to an end

His destiny was that
of being the great
warrior king
like none other
ruling over the people
and so his plight
mustn’t be grieved
for it is fitting.

O illustrious king
doing justice before
the face of the Sun
you will not rise
again

but you have
come and done
what was meant to be
done

and the people
all
great and small
will lift their voices
and lamentations
for fate has spoken

thus

Here lies Gilgamesh
mighty king
in this tomb
the bread and wine
offered
the Gods together

celebrating him