Amazed the sovereign sat upon his throne;
And while she wooed, his heart was turned to stone;
In scorn replied: “Rise Ishtar, Heaven’s high queen,
Though all thy wealth, possessions I had seen
Now piled before me, all in gems and gold,
Of all the wealth of Heaven there heaped of old,
I nakedness and famine would prefer
To all the wealth divine thou canst confer.
What carest thou for earthly royalty?
The cup of poison shall thy lovers see.
Thou sawest me within a haunt away
From men. I lingered on that direful day,
And took thee for a beauteous “zi-re-mu”
Or “zi-ar-i-a” or a “zi-lit-tu”
And thou didst cause to enter love divine.
As “zi-cur-un-i,” spirit of the wine,
Thou didst deceive me with thine arts refined,
And love escaped upon the passing wind.
Then to my palace come, and me there seek;
Didst place thy mouth upon my lips, and wake
Within my breast a dream of love and fire,
Till I awoke and checked thy wild desire;
Thou camest with the form of spirits fair,
Didst hover o’er me in my chamber there.
Thy godly fragrance from the skies above,
A sign did carry of the Queen of Love:
I woke, and thou didst vanish, then didst stand
As mine own servant in my palace grand.
Then as a skulking foe, a mystic spell
Didst weave, and scorch me with the fires of hell
While I was wrapped in sleep. Again I woke,
I saw around me “dal-khi”, sulphurous smoke,
Which thou didst send around my royal bed;
And I believed that I was with the dead,
With “dal-khi” gloating over me in hell.
My “su-khu-li” then sought thy presence fell.
Forever may thy wooing cease! for love
Hath fled, may godly praises never move
Upon the lips of holy gods, or men,–
Of thee, the god of Love ne’er speak again!
I loved thee once; with love my heart inflamed
Once sought thee, but my troubles I have blamed
Upon thee, for the dreams which thou didst send.
Go! rest thy heart; and to thy pleasures wend!
“For Tammuz of thy youth thy heart once wailed,
For years his weary form thy love assailed;
Allala next, the eagle, lovest, tore
His wings. No longer could he joyful soar
And float above the forest to the sky.
Thou leavest him with fluttering wings to die.
A lusty lion thou didst love, his might
Destroyed, and plucked his claws in fierce delight,
By sevens plucked, nor heard his piteous cry.
A glorious war-steed next thy love didst try,
Who yielded to thee, till his strength was gone:
For seven “kaspu” thou didst ride upon
Him without ceasing, gave no food nor drink,
Till he beneath thee to the earth did sink,
And to his mistress, Sil-i-li, the steed
Returned with broken spirit, drooping head.
Thou lovest Tabulu, the shepherd king,
And from his love continuous didst wring
“Sem-uk-ki”, till he to appease thy love,
The mighty gods of heaven then sought to move
To pity with his daily offerings.
Beneath thy wand upon the ground he springs,
Transformed to a hyena; then was driven
From his own city–by his dogs was riven.
Next Is-ul-lan-u lov’st, uncouth, and rude,
Thy father’s laborer, who subject stood
To thee, and daily scoured thy vessels bright:
His eyes from him were torn, before thy sight.
And chained before thee, there thy lover stood,
With deadly poison placed within his food.
Thou sayst: ‘O Isullanu, stretch thy hand!
The food partake, that doth before thee stand!’
Then with thy hand didst offer him the food.
He said: ‘What askest thou? It is not good!
I will not eat the poison thus prepared.’
Thy godly wand him from thy presence cleared,
Transformed him to a pillar far away.
And for my love Queen Ishtar comes this day?
As thou hast done with others, would thy love
Return to me, thine actions all doth prove.”
The queen in fury from his presence turned,
In speechless rage the palace halls she spurned;
And proudly from the earth swept to the skies;
Her godly train in terror quickly flies.
[Footnote 1: “Zi-re-mu,” spirit of mercy or grace.]–[Footnote 2: “Zi-lit-tu,” spirit of the mist.]–[Footnote 3: “Seven kaspu,” fourteen hours; each kaspu was two hours.]–[Footnote 4: “Sem-uk-ki,” translated by Sayce “stibium,” antimony; by Talbot, “luetarish semukki,” “thou who didst make evil with thy drugs.”–
“Trans. Soc. Bib. Arch.”, vol. v. p. 110. Sayce’s edition Smith’s “C.A.G.,” p. 229.]
SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet V (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.