1"O Mam-mitu, thou god of fate and death!
Thou spirit of fierce hate and parting breath,
Thou banisher of joy! O ghastly Law,
That gathers countless forces in thy maw!
A phantom! curse! and oft a blessing, joy!
All Heaven and earth thy hands shall e'er employ.
With blessings come, or curses to us bring,
The god who fails not with her hovering wing;
Nor god, nor man thy coming e'er may ken,
O mystery! thy ways none can explain."
If thou must come in earthquakes, fire, and flood,
Or pestilence and eftsoons cry for blood,
Thou comest oft with voice of sweetest love,
Our dearest, fondest passions, hopes, to move;
And men have worshipped thee in every form,
In fear have praised thee, sought thy feet to charm.
We reek not if you blessings, curses bring,
For men oft change thy noiseless, ghoulish wing.
And yet, thou comest, goddess Mam-mitu,
To bring with thee the feet of Nin-a-zu,
Two sister ghouls, remorseless, tearless, wan,
We fear ye not; ye bu'i-du, 2 begone!
Sweet life renews itself in holy love,
Your victory is naught! Ye vainly rove
Across our pathway with yours forms inane,
For somewhere, though we die, we live again.
3 The soul departed shall in glory shine,
As burnished gold its form shall glow divine,
And Samas there shall grant to us new life;
And Merodac, the eldest son, all strife[paragraph continues]
Shall end in peace in yonder Blest Abode,
Where happiness doth crown our glorious God.
4 The sacred waters there shall ever flow,
To Anat's arms shall all the righteous go;
The queen of Anu, Heaven's king, our hands
Outstretched will clasp, and through the glorious lands
Will lead us to the place of sweet delights;
The land that glows on yonder blessèd heights
Where milk and honey from bright fountains flow.
And nectar to our lips, all sorrows, woe,
Shall end in happiness beside the Stream
Of Life, and joy for us shall ever gleam;
Our hearts with thankfulness shall sweetly sing
And grander blissfulness each day will bring.
And if we do not reach that spirit realm,
Where bodyless each soul may ages whelm
With joy unutterable; still we live,
With bodies knew upon dear Earth, and give
Our newer life to children with our blood.
Or if these blessings we should miss; in wood,
Or glen, or garden, field, or emerald seas,
Our forms shall spring again; in such as these
We see around us throbbing with sweet life,
In trees or flowerets.
This needs no belief
On which to base the fabric of a dream,
For Earth her children from death doth redeem,
And each contributes to continuous bloom;
So go your way! ye sisters, to your gloom!
Far on their road have come the king of fame
And seer, within the land of Mas 5 they came,
Nor knew that Fate was hovering o'er their way,
In gentle converse they have passed the day.
Some twenty kaspu o'er the hills and plain,
They a wild forest in the mountain gain,[paragraph continues]
In a deep gorge they rode through thickets wild,
Beneath the pines; now to a pass they filed,
And lo! two dragons 6 near a cave contend
Their path! with backs upreared their coils unbend,
Extend their ravenous jaws with a loud roar
That harshly comes from mouths of clotted gore.
The sky o'erhead with lowering clouds is cast,
Which Anu in his rage above them massed.
Dark tempests fly above from Rimmon's breath,
Who hovers o'er them with the gods of death;
The wicked seven winds howl wildly round,
And crashing cedars falling shake the ground.
Now Tsil-lattu her black wings spreads o'er all,
Dark shrouding all the forest with her pall,
And from his steed for safety each dismounts,
And o'er their heads now break the ebon founts.
But hark! what is that dreadful roaring noise?
The dragons come! Their flaming crests they poise
Above, and nearer blaze their eyes of fire,
And see! upon them rush the monsters dire.
The largest springs upon the giant Sar,
Who parrying with the sword he used in war,
With many wounds it pierces, drives it back;
Again it comes, renews its fierce attack,
With fangs outspread its victims to devour,
High o'er the monarch's head its crest doth tower,
Its fiery breath upon his helm doth glow.
Exposed its breast! he strikes! his blade drives through
Its vitals! Dying now it shakes the ground,
And furious lashes all the forest round.
But hark! what is that awful lingering shriek
And cries of woe, that on his ears wild break?
A blinding flash, see! all the land reveals,
With dreadful roars, and darkness quick conceals
The fearful sight, to ever after come[paragraph continues]
Before his eyes, wherever he may roam.
The King, alas! too late Heabani drags
From the beast's fangs, that dies beneath the crags
O'erhanging near the cave. And now a din
Loud comes from dalkhi that around them spin
In fierce delight, while hellish voices rise
In harsh and awful mockery; the cries
Of agony return with taunting groans,
And mock with their fell hate those piteous moans.
Amazed stands Izdubar above his seer,
Nor hears the screams, nor the fierce dalkhi's jeer;
Beneath the flashing lightnings he soon found
The cave, and lays the seer upon the ground.
His breaking heart now cries in agony,
"Heabani! O my seer, thou must not die!
Alas! dread Mam-mitu hath led us here,
Awake for me! arouse! my noble seer!
I would to gods of Erech I had died
For thee! my seer! my strength! my kingdom's pride!"
The seer at last revives and turns his face
With love that death touched not, his hand doth place
With friendly clasp in that of his dear king,
"Grieve not, belovèd friend, this thing
Called death at last must come, why should we fear?
'Tis Hades' mist that opens for thy seer!
The gods us brought, nor asked consent, and life
They give and take away from all this strife
That must be here, my life I end on earth;
Both joy and sorrow I have seen from birth;
To Hades' awful land, whence none return,
Heabani's face in sorrow now must turn.
My love for thee, mine only pang reveals,
For this alone I grieve."
A teardrop steals
Across his features, shining 'neath the light
The King has lit to make the cavern bright.
"But oh, friend Izdubar, my King, when I
From this dear earth to waiting Hades fly,
Grieve not; and when to Erech you return,
Thou shalt in glory reign, and Zaidu learn
As thy companion all that thine own heart
Desires, thy throne thou wilt to him impart.
The female, Samkha, whom he brought to me
Is false, in league with thine own enemy.
And she will cause thee mischief, seek to drive
Thee from thy throne; but do not let her live
Within the walls of Erech, for the gods
Have not been worshipped in their high abodes.
When thou returnest, to the temple go,
And pray the gods to turn from thee the blow
Of Anu's fury, the strong god, who reigns
Above, and sent these woes upon the plains.
His anger raised against thee, even thee,
Must be allayed, or thy goods thou shalt see,
And kingdom, all destroyed by his dread power.
But Khasisadra will to thee give more
Advice when thou shalt meet the ancient seer,
For from thy side must I soon disappear."
The seer now ceased, and on his couch asleep
Spoke not, and Izdubar alone doth weep.
And thus twelve days were past, and now the seer
Of the great change he saw was drawing near
Informed his King, who read to him the prayers,
And for the end each friendly act prepares,
Then said: "O my Heabani, dearest friend,
I would that I thy body could defend
From thy fierce foe that brings the end to thee.
My friend in battle I may never see
Again, when thou didst nobly stand beside
Me; with my seer and friend I then defied
All foes; and must thou leave thy friend, my seer?
"Alas! my King, I soon shall leave thee here."
110:1 We have here quoted an Accadian Hymn to the goddess of fate. ("Trans. Soc. of Bib. Arch.," vol. ii. p. 39.)
110:2 "Bu'i-du," ghosts.
110:3 Accadian hymn on the future of the just. (" Trans. Soc. of Bib. Arch.," vol. ii. p. 32.)
111:4 Assyrian fragmentary hymn ("W. A. L.," iv. 25, col. v.), translated in "Records of the Past," vol. xi. pp. 161, 162.
111:5 The land of Mas, Mr. Sayce supposes, was situated west of the Euphrates Valley.
112:6 "Dragons." The word for this animal is "tammabuk-ku." It was probably one of the monsters portrayed on the Babylonian cylinders now in the British Museum.