This prompt was to take on a long poem and re-edit it, basically. You cross out words and make a new poem out of it. I decided to take on the Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest poem known to man, because I find Sumeria fascinating and because I’m dorky enough to think editing a poem that predates paper is a good way to spend a Monday night. I’m expecting formatting problems, but I am grateful that, unlike the original author, I don’t have to chisel this into stone!
He has seen everything.
experienced all things,
Anu granted all.
(the time) before the Flood.
pushing himself to exhaustion
He carved on stone
built the wall of Uruk-Haven
the wall of sacred Eanna gleams like copper
the threshold stone dates from ancient times
Go to the residence of Ishtar
Go up on the wall of Uruk
did not the Seven Sages themselves lay out its plans?
Find the copper tablet box
open its lock of bronze
undo its secret
the lapis lazuli tablet
Gilgamesh went through every hardship
he is the hero, born of Uruk, the goring wild bull
Offspring of Lugalbanda
he opened the mountain passes
dug wells on the mountain
crossed the ocean to the rising sun
he reached Utanapishtim, the Faraway,
restored the cities the Flood had destroyed
The Great Goddess Aruru
prepared his form …
… beautiful, handsomest of men,
There is no rival who can raise his weapon against him.
Is Gilgamesh the shepherd of Uruk-Haven,
is he the shepherd. …
the gods implored
the gods called out to Aruru:
create a zikru
Aruru pinched off some clay
threw it into the wilderness
born of Silence
He knew neither people nor settled living,
but wore a garment like Sumukan
He ate grasses with the gazelles
and jostled at the watering hole with the animals
A notorious trapper came face-to-face with him opposite the watering hole.
he came face-to-face with him
opposite the watering hole
trapper’s face went stark with fear
He was rigid with fear
his heart pounded and his face drained of color.
The trapper addressed his father saying:”
“Father, a certain fellow has come from the mountains.
He is the mightiest in the land,
his strength is as mighty as the meteorite(?) of Anu!
He continually goes over the mountains,
He filled in the pits that I had dug,
wrenched out my traps
released wild animals.
He does not let me make my rounds in the wilderness!”
The trapper’s father spoke:
There is no one stronger
he is as strong as the meteorite of Anu.
Go to Uruk,
tell Gilgamesh of this Man of Might.
He will give you the harlot Shamhat,
take her with you.
The woman will overcome the fellow (?)
as if she were strong.
When he sees her he will draw near to her,
The trapper went off to Uruk,
made the journey
bringing the harlot
Then he, Enkidu, offspring of the mountains,
who eats grasses with the gazelles,
came to drink at the watering hole with the animals,
with the wild beasts he slaked his thirst with water.
Then Shamhat saw him
“That is he, Shamhat!
Do not be restrained–take his energy!
When he sees you he will draw near to you.
Spread out your robe
Shamhat was not restrained,
but took his energy.
She spread out her robe and he lay upon her,
His lust groaned over her;
for six days and seven nights
until he was sated
But when he turned to his animals,
the gazelles darted off,
the wild animals distanced themselves from his body.
Enkidu was diminished,
But his understanding had broadened.
he sat at the harlot’s feet,
gazing into her face,
The harlot said to Enkidu:
“You are beautiful,” Enkidu, you are become like a god.
Why do you gallop around the wilderness with the wild beasts?
Come, let me bring you into Uruk-Haven,
to the Holy Temple, the residence of Anu and Ishtar,
the place of Gilgamesh, who is wise to perfection,
but who struts his power over the people like a wild bull.”
What she kept saying found favor with him.
Becoming aware of himself, he sought a friend.
Enkidu spoke to the harlot:
“Come, Shamhat, take me away with you
to the sacred Holy Temple of Anu and Ishtar,
the place of Gilgamesh, wise to perfection,
but who struts his power over the people like a wild bull.
I will challenge him …
Let me shout out in Uruk: I am the mighty one!’
Lead me in
I will change the order of things;
where the people show off in skirted finery
where every day is a festival
where lyre and drum play continually
where harlots stand about prettily
you who do not know how to live
Enkidu, it is your wrong thoughts you must change!
It is Gilgamesh whom Shamhat loves,
and Anu, Enlil, and La have enlarged his mind.”
Even before you came from the mountain
Gilgamesh in Uruk had dreams about you.
Stars of the sky appeared,
and some kind of meteorite of Anu fell next to me.
I tried to lift it
but it was too mighty for me
I tried to turn it over
but I could not budge it.
The Land of Uruk was standing around it
the whole land had assembled
the Men clustered about it
I laid it down at your feet
2 thoughts on “Nanopowrimo 26 – Gilgamesh”
Love Gilgamesh. I actually studied Sumerian for three semesters. And a laptop is much easier to use than a stylus and clay. Love this poem.
Thanks. It’s kind of tempting to redo the underworld part just for fun now …