(Love Departs From The Earth—The Earth’s Solemn Dirge Of Woe.)
When Ishtar, Queen of Love, from Earth had flown,
With her love fled, and left all nature prone;
From Earth all peace with love then fled amain.
In loneliness the bull stalked o’er the plain,
And tossed his drooping crest toward the sky,
In sadness lay upon the green to die;
On the far kine looked weary and bereaved,
And turned toward the gods, and wondering grieved.
The troubled kine then gravely chewed their cud,
And hungerless in the rich pastures stood.
The ass his mate abandoned, fled away,
And loveless wives then cursed the direful day;
And loving husbands kiss their wives no more,
And doves their cooing ceased, and separate soar;
And love then died in all the breasts of men,
And strife supreme on earth was reveling then.
The sexes of mankind their wars divide,
And women hate all men, and them deride;
And some demented hurl aside their gowns,
And queens their robes discard and jewelled crowns,
And rush upon the streets bereft of shame,
Their forms expose, and all the gods defame.
Alas! from earth the Queen of Love has gone,
And lovers ‘void their haunts with faces wan
And spurn from them the hateful thought of love,
For love no longer reigns, all life to move.
An awful thrill now speeds through Hades’ doors,
And shakes with horror all the dismal floors;
A wail upon the breeze through space doth fly,
And howling gales sweep madly through the sky;
Through all the universe there speeds a pang
Of travail. Mam-nu-tu appalled doth hang
Upon her blackened pinions in the air,
And piteous from her path leads Black Despair,
“The queen in chains in Hades dying lies,
And life with her,” they cry, “forever dies!”
Through misty glades and darkened depths of space,
Tornadoes roar her fate to Earth’s sweet face;
The direful tidings from far Hades pour
Upon her bosom with their saddest roar;
Like moans of mighty powers in misery,
They bring the tale with awful minstrelsy.
And Earth her mists wrapped round her face in woe,
While icy pangs through all her breast deep flow.
Her bosom sobbing wails a mighty moan,
“Alas! forever my sweet queen hath flown!”
With shrieks of hurricane, and ocean’s groan,
And sobbing of the winds through heights unknown,
Through mountain gorges sweep her wails of woe,
Through every land and seas, her sorrows flow:
Oh, moan! oh, moan! dear mountains, lakes, and seas!
Oh, weep with me dear plants, and flowers, and trees!
Alas! my beauty fading now will die!
Oh, weep, ye stars, for me in every sky!
Oh, Samas, hide thy face! I am undone!
Oh, weep with me Ur-ru, my precious son.
Let all your notes of joy, my birds, be stilled;
Your mother’s heart with dread despair is filled:
“Come back, my flowerets, with your fragrant dews;
Come, all my beauties, with your brightest hues;
Come back, my plants and buds and youngling shoots!
Within your mother’s bosom hide your roots.
Oh, children, children! Love hath fled away,
Alas! that life I gave should see this day!
Your queen lies dying in her awful woe,
Oh, why should she from us to Hades go?”
Wide Nature felt her woe, and ceased to spring,
And withered buds their vigor lost, and fling
No more their fragrance to the lifeless air;
The fruit-trees died, or barren ceased to bear;
The male plants kiss their female plants no more;
And pollen on the winds no longer soar
To carry their caresses to the seed
Of waiting hearts that unavailing bleed,
Until they fold their petals in despair,
And dying, drop to earth, and wither there.
The growing grain no longer fills its head,
The fairest fields of corn lie blasted, dead.
All Nature mourning dons her sad attire,
And plants and trees with falling leaves expire.
And Samas’ light and moon-god’s soothing rays
Earth’s love no more attracts; recurring days
Are shortened by a blackness deep profound
That rises higher as the days come round.
At last their light flees from the darkened skies,
The last faint gleam now passes, slowly dies.
Upon a blasted world, dread darkness falls,
O’er dying nature, crumbling cities’ walls.
Volcanoes’ fires are now the only light,
Where pale-faced men collect around in fright;
With fearful cries the lurid air they rend,
To all the gods their wild petitions send.
[Footnote 1: “Mam-nu-tu,” goddess of fate.]–[Footnote 2: “Ur-ru,” the moon-god.]
SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet VI (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.