Sunday, June 14, 2015

Gilgamesh -- David Ferry (trans.)

Tablet X


The old man spoke and said to Gilgamesh:
"Your face is bitten by hunger or by sorrow.

Why do you look like one who has undergone
a terrible journey? Why do you look like one

who grieves? Why do you wear the skin of a beast?
Why is it that you roam the wilderness?"

And Gilgamesh spoke to the old man and said:
"I look like one whose grief lives in his heart,

Because of the death of Enkidu the companion.
Together we made the journey across the mountains

through the dangerous passes to the Cedar Forest;
he told me how the dreams were fortunate;

together we made the festal gate of cedar.
We fought the Bull of Heaven together and killed him,

and after we killed the Bull sat down and rested.
Two brothers, we washed our hands in the calm waters.

Enkidu, the companion, whom I loved,
who went together with me on the journey

no one has ever undergone before,
now Enkidu has undergone the fate

the high gods have established for mankind.
I saw the worm drop out of Enkidu's nose.

Must I die too? Must I too be like that?
I wandered the desert seeking Utnapishtim,

he who is called by men the Faraway;
I lived on the flesh of beasts I hunted down,

lions, and tigers, the bear, the hyena, the panther;
I wore the skins of beasts I had hunted down.

There was no sleep for me in the deserts or mountains.
The tavern keeper shut her door against me.

I lay in the dirt as if I were a beast."
The old man spoke and said to Gilgamesh:

"You who were born the son of a goddess mother,
why do you grieve because of a mortal father?

How long does a building stand before it falls?
How long does a contract last? How long will brothers

share the inheritance before they quarrel?
How long does hatred, for that matter, last?

Time after time the river has risen and flooded.
The insect leaves the cocoon to live but a minute.

How long is the eye able to look at the sun?
From the very beginning nothing at all has lasted.

See how the dead and the sleeping resemble each other.
Seen together, they are the image of death.

The simple man and the ruler resemble each other.
The face of the one will darken like that of the other.

The Annunaki gathered in assembly;
Mammetum, Mother Goddess, she was with them.

There they established that there is life and death.
The day of death is set, though not made known."

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