As Samas’ car sank in the glowing west,
And Sin the moon-god forth had come full drest
For starry dance across the glistening skies,
The sound of work for man on earth now dies,
And all betake themselves to sweet repose.
The silver light of Sin above bright flows,
And floods the figures on the painted walls,
O’er sculptured lions, softly, lightly falls;
Like grim and silent watch-dogs at the door
They stand; in marble check their leaping roar.
The King within his chamber went his way,
Upon his golden jewelled couch he lay.
The silken scarlet canopy was hung
In graceful drapery and loosely clung
Around his couch, and purple damask cloths
Embroidered with rare skill, preserved from moths
By rich perfumes, to the carved lintel clung
In graceful folds; thus o’er the entrance hung.
Queen Ishtar softly comes, and o’er his dreams
A mystic spell she draws, until it seems
While half awake he lies, that she is yet
Close nestling in his arms, as he had met
Her in the wood, and with her there reclined,
While her soft arms around him were entwined.
Thus while he sleeps she hovers o’er his bed
With throbbing heart, and close inclines her head
Until her lips near touch the sleeping King’s,
But daring not to kiss.
She love thus brings,
All through his dreams; until one misty night,
While he yet restless tossed, the lovely sprite
Sunk him to deeper sleep with her soft lyre
While hanging o’er his couch consumed with fire
That nestling around her heart-strings fiercely burned
Until at last lulled by the strain he turned
Upon his couch at rest, and she now lay
Beside him closely, when she heard him say:
“My love thou art, but canst not be!” No more
He murmurs, then inflamed she sought the door.
“Perchance the “su-khu-li” sleep not!” she said;
And satisfied, turned where her lover laid;
And to his royal couch she crept again;
Her bliss will have despite of gods and men.
Her hot and burning lips cannot resist
The tempting treasure lying there, nor missed
Shall be the dearest joys of love from her
Who rules all hearts in Heaven, earth, and air.
Her right divine that blessing sweet to take,
She will assert, her burning thirst to slake.
His couch the Heavenly Queen of Love now graces,
And on his breast her glorious head she places;
Embracing him, she softly through her lips
And his, the sweetest earthly nectar sips,
While he in sleep lies murmuring of love,
And she in blissful ecstasy doth move.
Her lips to his, she wildly places there,
Until to him it seems a fond nightmare.
And thus, against his will, she fondly takes
What he her shall deny when he awakes,
The stolen kisses both the lovers thrill:
Unquenched her warm desire would kiss him still,
But his hot blood now warms him in his dream
Which is much more to him than it doth seem;
And clasping her within convulsing arms,
Receives a thrill that all his nerves alarms,
And wakes him from the dreams she had instilled.
“What means this fantasy that hath me filled,
And spirit form that o’er my pillow leans;
I wonder what this fragrant incense means?
Oh, tush! ’tis but an idle, wildering dream,
But how delightful, joyous it did seem!
Her beauteous form it had, its breath perfume;
Do spirit forms such loveliness assume?”
The goddess yet dares not her form reveal,
And quickly she herself doth now conceal
Behind the damask curtains at the door.
When he awoke, sprang to the chamber floor,
As his own maid the queen herself transforms,
Says entering in haste:
“What wild alarms
Thee, Sar?” and then demure awaits reply,
In doubt to hear or to his bosom fly.
“My maid art thou? ‘Tis well, for I have dreamed
Of spirits, as a Zi-ru fair it seemed.”
[Footnote 1: “Su-khu-li,” guards of the palace.]
THE COMMENTARY GAZETTE®
SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature, ((Alc-1, Tab-2, Col-1)-(1901)); Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.
CONTRIBUTOR: John Hague