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p. 23



The hour has come when Izdubar will seek
The cool enchantment of the cove, and slake
His thirst with its sweet waters bubbling pure,
Where Love has spread for him her sweetest lure,
The maids expectant listening, watch and wait
His coming; oft in ecstacies they prate
O'er his surprise, and softly sport and splash
The limpid waves around, that glowing flash
Like heaps of snowy pearls flung to the light
By Hea's 1 hands, his Zir-ri 2 to delight.
And now upon the rock each maid reclines,
While Ishtar's form beneath them brightly shines;
Beside the fountain stands the lovely god,
The graceful sovereign of Love's sweet abode.

"He comes; the shrubs of yonder jasmine near
Are rustling, oh, he comes! my Izdubar!"
And thus her love she greets: "Why art thou here?
Thou lovely mortal! king art thou, or seer?
We reck not which, and welcome give to thee;
Wouldst thou here sport with us within the sea?"
And then, as if her loveliness forgot,
She quickly grasped her golden locks and wrought
Them round her form of symmetry with grace
That well became a god, while o'er her face
Of sweetest beauty blushes were o'erspread;
"Thou see-est only Nature's robe," she said.
"'Tis all I wish while sporting with my maids,
And all alone no care have we for jades;
And if with thee we can in truth confide,
We here from all the world may cosey hide."
She hurls a glance toward him, smiling naïve,
Then bounding from the rock, peeps from a wave;
The waters fondling her surround, embrace
Her charms; and now emerging with rare grace,

p. 24

She turning says:
                     "Make haste, my hearts!
Come forth! attend your queen!" and then she parts
The azure waves, to where, in dumb surprise,
The King enchanted stands, and fondly eyes
The Queen divine, while fascinating thrills
Sweep wildly through his breast; as fragrance fills
The rose-tree groves, or gardens of the gods,
Or breezes odorous from the Blest Abodes.
A longing, rising, fills his inmost soul
For this sweet queen who offers him a goal
His stormy life has never known, since he,
His loved one lost beneath the raging sea;
And all his calm resolves to seek no more
A joy which passed and left his heart forlore,
Are breaking, vanishing beneath her charms,
Dissolving as the mists, when sunlight warms
The earth, then scorching drinks the rising dews;
Till he at last no longer can refuse,
And love directs while he the goddess greets:
"Such wondrous beauty here no mortal meets;
But come, thou Zir-ru, 3 with me sweetly rest;
Primroses, gentians, with their charms invest
My mossy couch, with odorous citron-trees
And feathery palms above; and I will please
Thee with a mortal's love thou hast not known;
In pure love mingling let our spirits run,
For earthly joys are sweeter than above,
That rarest gift, the honeyed kiss of love
On earth, is sweeter bliss than gods enjoy;
Their shadowy forms with love cannot employ
Such pleasure as a mortal's sweet caress.
Come, Zi-ru, and thy spirit I will bless;
The Mandrake 4 ripened golden, glows around;
The fruit of Love is fragrant on the ground."

Amid the Dud'im 5 plants he now reclines,
And to his welcome fate himself resigns;

p. 25

The lovely queen beside him now doth lay,
And leads his soul along the blissful way
That comes to every heart that longs for love,
When purest joy doth bless us from above;
From her soft liquid eyes the love-light speaks,
And her warm hands she lays in his, and wakes
Beneath her touch a thrill of wild desire,
Until his blood now seems like molten fire.
Her eyes half closed begat a passion wild,
With her warm breast, her loves hath beguiled;
She nearer creeps with hot and balmy breath,
And trembling form aglow, and to him saith:
"My lips are burning for a kiss, my love!"
A prize like this, a heart of stone would move,
And he his arms around her fondly placed
Till she reclined upon his breast, embraced,
Their lips in one long thrilling rapture meet.
But hark! what are these strains above so sweet
That float around, above, their love surround?
An-nu-na-ci 6 from forests, mounts around,
And from the streams and lakes, and ocean, trees,
And all that haunt the godly place, to please
The lovers, softly chant and dance around
To cymbals, lyres until the rocks resound,
Of goddess Ishtar chant, and Izdubar,
The Queen of Love wed to the King of War.
And he alarmed starts up and springs away,
And furious cries, to Ishtar's wild dismay:

"What meanest thou, thou wanton brazen thing?
Wouldst thou on me the direst curses bring?"
And lo! the goddess is transformed! the crown
Of her own silver skies shines like the sun,
And o'er her dazzling robes a halo falls;
Her stately form with glory him appals,
For Heaven's dazzling splendor o'er her flows,
With rays celestial; o'er her brow there glows
A single star.

p. 26

               "Have I embraced a god?"
He horrified now cries; and she doth nod
         "But, oh I wilt thou thy queen forgive?
I love thee! stay! oh, stay! my heart you grieve!
He springs beyond the mystic circling ring,
And from their sight thus glides the angry King.
Beneath the wood himself he doth disguise
In tattered garments, on his steed he flies;
And when he comes in sight of Erech's gate,
His beggar's mantle throws aside; in state
Again enrobed, composed his anxious face,
Through Erech's gates he rides with kingly grace;
O'er his adventure thus the King reflects:
"Alas my folly leads, my life directs!
'Tis true, the goddess hath seductive charms,
E'en yet I feel her warm embracing arms.
Enough! her love from me I'll drive away;
Alas! for me, is this unfruitful day!"


23:1 "Hea," god of the ocean.

23:2 "Zir-ri," spirits of the river, the sea-daughters of Hea.

24:3 "Zir-ru" water-nymph.

24:4 "Mandrake," the "love-plant."

24:5 "Dud'im" or Chald. דודאים, and Syr. יברוחין, the "love-plant" or mandrake: perhaps also originally from "du-du" ("love") or ex. p. 25 רוּ ("particula"), Arab. "possessorem designante," et e) rad. Arab. דדי ("aegrotatvit"),or דוּד or "amare." See Simoni's Lex. Man. Heb. et Chald. et Lat., pp. 204-206, and Park's Heb. Lex., p. 113, note †.

25:6 "An-nu-na-ci," spirits of the earth.

Next: Tablet II--Column I. Ishtar's Midnight Courtship in the Palace of Izdubar