Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Heabani Resolves to Return To Erech [Part 12]; Assyrian

As Zaidu sadly turns and rides away,
The hermit from his cave comes forth to pray:
“Alas! hath all these wilds their charms here lost?
And is my breast with wild ambition tost?
My lonely cot I look upon with shame;
Again I long to seek the fields of fame,
Where luxury my remaining years
May crown, and happiness may find–or tears;
‘Tis true! I should have welcomed the “bar-ru;”[1]
But he hath since returned to Subartu.”[2]
His harp he took from its dust-covered case,
And kissed its carved and well-remembered face;
And tuning it, he glanced toward the wood,
And sang his farewell ode to solitude:

Farewell, ye mountains, woods and trees–
My heart doth long again for joy;
I love your wilds and mossy leas,
But oh, your solitude doth cloy!

I love to see the “bur-khi-is”[3]
Sweep stately o’er the mossy rocks;
And “tsabi”[4] in a wild like this,
Hear the tattoo of red woodchucks.

I love the cries of “lig-bar-ri”[5]
The “nes-i”[6] calling for their prey;
And leaping of the “na-a-li”[7]
That fly in wildest fear away.

I love the “bu-hir-tser-i”[8] all,
“Khar-sa-a-nii sa-qu-u-tu;”[9]
Hear “cu-uts-tsi”[10] with thunder roll
Across the skies within my view.

I love to see the “ca-ca-bi”[11]
Peep through the pine-trees o’er my home,
And watch the wild “tu-ra-a-khi”[12]
And “arme”[13] welcome, to me come.

Farewell! ye solitudes, farewell!
I will not moulder rotting lie
With no one’s lips to wish me well;
O give me immortality!

But what is fame? A bubble blown
Upon the breeze, that bursts its shell,
And all our brightest hopes are flown,
And leaves our solitude a hell.

The holy minstrel bows his head in woe,
And sweeps the harpstrings with a movement slow;
Then lifts his eyes toward the setting sun,
His evening invocation thus begun:

[14]O Samas! to the lifting of my hands
Show favor! unto me thy servant turn!
What man before thy blessed Light withstands?
O thou! what mortal thine own words can learn?
And who can rival them inviolate?
[15]Among the gods no equal thou hast found.
In Heaven who of all the gods is great?
O thou alone! art great through Heaven’s bound!

On earth what man is great? alas! no one,
For thou alone art great! through earth’s vast bounds.
When wide thy awful voice in Heaven resounds,
The gods fall prostrate to our Holy One;
When on the earth thy voice afar resounds,
The genii[16] bow to thee and kiss the dust.
In thee, O Samas! do I put my trust,
For thy great love and mercy wide abounds!

O my Creator, God, thy watchfulness
O’er me, oh may it never cease!
Keep thou the opening of my lips! the fleece
Of purest snow be my soul’s daily dress.
Guard thou my hands! O Samas, Lord of Light!
And ever keep my life and heart aright!

[Footnote 1: “Bar-ru,” an army officer]—[Footnote 2: “Su-bar-tu,” Syria]—[Footnote 3: “Bur-khi-is,” antelopes]—[Footnote 4: “Tsabi,” gazelles]—[Footnote 5: “Lig-bar-ri,” hyenas]—[Footnote 6: “Nes-i,” lions]—[Footnote 7: “Na-a-li,” spotted stags]—[Footnote 8: “Bu-hir-tser-i,” beasts of the field]—[Footnote 9: “Khar-sa-a-nu sa-qu-u-tu,” forests thick]—[Footnote 10: “Cu-uts-tsi,” storms.]—[Footnote 11: “Ca-ca-bi,” stars.]—[Footnote 12: “Tu-ra-a-khi,” deer.]—[Footnote 13: “Arme,” wild goats.]—[Footnote 14: This prayer is made up from Assyrian fragments now in the British Museum.]—[Footnote 15: See “Records of the Past,” vol. iii. p. 136.]—[Footnote 16: “Genii,” spirits.]

THE COMMENTARY GAZETTE®

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature (1901)[Alcove 1, Tablet 2, Column 6]Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.
CONTRIBUTOR: John Hague

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