(One Of Death And Oblivion, And The Other Of Heaven, And Dies In The Arms Of The King)
“But, oh, my King! to thee I now reveal
A secret that my heart would yet conceal,
To thee, my friend, two visions I reveal:
The first I oft have dreamed beneath some spell
Of night, when I enwrapped from all the world,
With Self alone communed.
By winged thought beyond this present life,
I seeming woke in a Dark World where rife
Was Nothingness,–a darksome mist it seemed,
All eke was naught;–no light for me there gleamed;
And floating ‘lone, which way I turned, saw naught;
Nor felt of substance ‘neath my feet, nor fraught
With light was Space around; nor cheerful ray
Of single star. The sun was quenched; or day
Or night, knew not. No hands had I, nor feet,
Nor head, nor body, all was void. No heat
Or cold I felt, no form could feel or see;
And naught I knew but conscious entity.
No boundary my being felt, or had;
And speechless, deaf, and blind, and formless, sad,
I floated through dark space,–a conscious blank!
No breath of air my spirit moved; I sank
I knew not where, till motionless I ceased
At last to move, and yet I could not rest,
Around me spread the Limitless, and Vast.
My cheerless, conscious spirit,–fixed and fast
In some lone spot in space was moveless, stark!
An atom chained by forces stern and dark,
With naught around me. Comfortless I lived
In my dread loneliness! Oh, how I grieved!
And thus, man’s fate in Life and Death is solved
With naught but consciousness, and thus involved
All men in hopes that no fruition have?
And this alone was all that death me gave?
That all had vanished, gone from me that life
Could give, and left me but a blank, with strife
Of rising thoughts, and vain regrets, to float;
Away from life and light, be chained remote!
“Oh, how my spirit longed for some lone crag
To part the gloom beneath, and rudely drag
My senses back! or with its shock to end
My dire existence;–to oblivion send
Me quickly! How I strove to curse, and break
That soundless Void, with shrieks or cries, to wake
That awful silence which around me spread!
In vain! in vain! all but my soul was dead.
And then my spirit soundless cried within:
‘Oh, take me! take me back to Earth again!’
For tortures of the flesh were bliss and joy
To such existence! Pain can never cloy
The smallest thrill of earthly happiness!
‘Twas joy to live on earth in pain! I’ll bless
Thee, gods, if I may see its fields I’ve trod
To kiss its fragrant flowers, and clasp the sod
Of mother Earth, that grand and beauteous world!
From all its happiness, alas! was hurled
My spirit,–then in frenzy–I awoke!
Great Bel! a dream it was! as vanished smoke
It sped! and I sprang from my couch and prayed
To all the gods, and thus my soul allayed.
And then with blessings on my lips, I sought
My couch, and dropped away in blissful thought
In dream the second: “Then the Silver Sky
Came to me. Near the Stream of Life I lie:
My couch the rarest flowers; and music thrills
My soul! How soft and sweet it sounds from rills
And streams, and feathered songsters in the trees
Of Heaven’s fruits!–e’en all that here doth please
The heart of man was there, In a dear spot
I lay, ‘mid olives, spices, where was wrought
A beauteous grotto; and beside me near,
Were friends I loved; and one both near and dear
With me reclined, in blissful converse, sweet
With tender thought, Our joy was full, complete!
The ministering spirits there had spread
Before us all a banquet on the mead,
With Heaven’s food and nectar for our feast;
And oh, so happy! How our joy increased
As moments flew, to years without an end!
To Courts Refulgent there we oft did wend.
“Beside a silver lake, a holy fane
There stood within the centre of the plain,
High built on terraces, with walls of gold,
Where palaces and mansions there enfold
A temple of the gods, that stands within
‘Mid feathery palms and “gesdin” bowers green,
The city rises to a dizzy height,
With jewelled turrets flashing in the light,
Grand mansions piled on mansions rising high
Until the glowing summits reach the sky.
A cloud of myriad wings, e’er fills the sky,
As doves around their nests on earth here fly;
The countless millions of the souls on earth,
The gods have brought to light from mortal birth,
Are carried there from the dark world of doom;
For countless numbers more there still is room.
Through trailing vines my Love and I oft wind,
With arms of love around each other twined.
This day, we passed along the Stream of Life,
Through blooming gardens, with sweet odors rife;
Beneath the ever-ripening fruits we walk,
Along dear paths, and sweetly sing, or talk,
While warbling birds around us fly in view,
From bloom to bloom with wings of every hue;
And large-eyed deer, no longer wild, us pass,
With young gazelles, and kiss each other’s face.
“We now have reached the stately stairs of gold,
The city of the gods, here built of old.
The pearled pillars rise inlaid divine,
With lotus delicately traced with vine
In gold and diamonds, pearls, and unknown gems,
That wind to capital with blooming stems
Of lilies, honeysuckles, and the rose
An avenue of columns in long rows
Of varied splendor, leads to shining courts
Where skilful spirit hands with perfect arts
Have chiselled glorious forms magnificent,
With ornate skill and sweet embellishment.
Their golden sculpture view on every hand,
Or carved images in pearl that stand
In clusters on the floor, or in long rows;
And on the walls of purest pearl there glows
The painting of each act of kindest deed
Each soul performs on earth;–is there portrayed.
“The scenes of tenderness and holy love,
There stand and never end, but onward move,
And fill the galleries of Heaven with joy,
And ever spirit artist hands employ.
The holiest deeds are carved in purest gold,
Or richest gems, and there are stored of old;
Within the inner court a fountain stood,
Of purest diamond moulded, whence there flowed
Into a golden chalice,–trickling cool,
The nectar of the gods,–a sparkling pool,
That murmuring sank beneath an emerald vase
That rested underneath;–the fountain’s base.
“We entered then an arcade arching long
Through saph’rine galleries, and heard the song
That swelling came from temples hyaline;
And passed through lazite courts and halls divine,
While dazzling glories brighter round us shone
How sweet then came the strains! with grander tone!
And, oh, my King! I reached the gates of pearl
That stood ajar, and heard the joyous whirl
That thrilled the sounding domes and lofty halls,
And echoed from the shining jasper walls.
I stood within the gate, and, oh, my friend,
Before that holy sight I prone did bend,
And hid my face upon the jacinth stairs.
A shining god raised me, and bade my fears
Be flown, and I beheld the glorious throne
Of crystaled light; with rays by man unknown.
The awful god there sat with brows sublime,
With robes of woven gold, and diadem
That beamed with blazing splendor o’er his head.
I thus beheld the god with presence dread,
The King of Kings, the Ancient of the Days,
While music rose around with joyous praise.
With awful thunders how they all rejoice!
And sing aloud with one commingled voice!
“What happiness it was to me, my King!
From bower to temple I went oft to sing,
Or spread my wings above the mount divine,
And viewed the fields from heights cerulean.
Those songs still linger on dear memory’s ear,
And tireless rest upon me, ever cheer.
But from the Happy Fields, alas! I woke,
And from my sight the Heavenly vision broke;
But, oh, my King, it all was but a dream!
I hope the truth is such, as it did seem;
If it is true that such a Heavenly Land
Exists with happiness so glorious, grand,
Within that haven I would happy be!
But it, alas! is now denied to me.
For, oh, my King, to Hades I must go,
My wings unfold to fly to Realms of Woe;
In darkness to that other world unknown,
Alas! from joyous earth my life has flown.
“Farewell, my King, my love thou knowest well;
I go the road; in Hades soon shall dwell;
To dwelling of the god Irkalla fierce,
To walls where light for me can never pierce,
The road from which no soul may e’er return,
Where dust shall wrap me round, my body urn,
Where sateless ravens float upon the air,
Where light is never seen, or enters there,
Where I in darkness shall be crowned with gloom;
With crowned heads of earth who there shall come
To reign with Anu’s favor or great Bel’s,
Then sceptreless are chained in their dark cells
With naught to drink but Hades’ waters there,
And dream of all the past with blank despair.
Within that world, I too shall ceaseless moan,
Where dwell the lord and the unconquered one,
And seers and great men dwell within that deep,
With dragons of those realms we all shall sleep;
Where King Etana and god Ner doth reign
With Allat, the dark Under-World’s great queen,
Who reigns o’er all within her regions lone,
The Mistress of the Fields, her mother, prone
Before her falls, and none her face withstands;
But I will her approach, and take her hands,
And she will comfort me in my dread woe.
Alas! through yonder void I now must go!
My hands I spread! as birds with wings I fly!
Descend! descend! beneath that awful sky!”
The seer falls in the arms of Izdubar,
And he is gone;–’tis clay remaineth here.
[Footnote 1:”Gesdin,” the Tree of Life and Immortality.]–[Footnote 2: “Etana,” Lord or King of Hades. He is mentioned in the Creation series of Legends as having reigned before the flood.]
SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet VII (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.
Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Contest With The Dragons In The Mountains (Part 37); Assyrian