Before a cave within the Gab-ri 1b wild,
A seer is resting on a rock; exiled
By his own will from all the haunts of men,
Beside a pool, within a rocky glen
He sits; a turban rests upon his brow,
And meets the lengthened beard of whitest snow.
This morn an omen comes before his eyes,
And him disturbs with a wild eagle's cries
That fierce attacks a fox before his cave;
For he of beasts is the most cunning knave;
In wait upon the ground the fox hath lain
To lure the bird, which flying deems him slain.
He fiercely seizes it, as swooping down,
The bird with its sly quarry would have flown;
But the a-si 2 quick seized it by the throat,
While the wide wings with frantic fury smote
The beast, and the sharp talons deeply tore
Its foe--both greedy for the other's gore.
And lo! a voice from yonder sky resounds;
Heabani to his feet now quickly bounds,
And bowing, listens to the voice that comes
In gentleness; upon the winds it roams
From yon blue heights like sighing of the trees;
The seer in reverence upon his knees
Now holy bares his head in Samas' rays,
While the soft voice to him thus gently says:
"A messenger, Heabani, soon shall come
With offers rich, to leave thy lonely home.
This eagle sought its food and found a snare,
The messenger will come from Izdubar,
To learn from thee the meaning of his dream
Which goddess Ishtar sent,--a snare for him.
Then to the messenger prove not a snare,
As yonder a-si doth the eagle tear."
The seer in fury tore his beard of snow
"Alas! my days shall end in woe
Within these wilds my happiness is mine,
No other joys I seek, my god divine;
I would upon these rocks lie down to die,
Upon my back here sleep eternally."
And Samas urging, to him thus replied:
"Heabani, hast thou not some manly pride?
And thinkest thou no joy thou here wilt lose?
The lovely Sam-kha-tu 3 the seer may choose.
Arrayed in trappings of divinity
And the insignia of royalty,
Heabani then in Erech shall be great,
And live in happiness and royal state;
And Izdubar shall hearken, and incline
His heart in warmest friendship, and recline
With thee upon a couch of luxury,
And seat thee on a throne of royalty,
On his left hand, a crown shall grace thy brow.
Kings of the earth shall to thee subject bow
And kiss thy feet, and Izdubar shall give
Thee wealth, and thou in luxury shalt live.
In silence Erech's men shall bow to thee,
In royal raiment thou shalt happy be."
Heabani listened to the words that came
From Samas, and his brow was lit with shame
To hear the god of war urge him to go
To earthly happiness--mayhap to woe;
But he within his cave now listless turns
When Samas ceased; then to his rock returns,
And seats himself with calmness on his brow;
His thoughts in happy memories now flow,
And he recalls the blissful days of yore
When he as seer lived on Euphrates' shore,
As the queen's bard oft tuned a festive lay,
While soft-eyed maidens dance and cymbals play.
36:1b "Gab-ri," mountains.
37:2 "A-si," fox.
37:3 "Sam-kha-tu" ("Joy"), one of the maids of Ishtar.