From the Epic of Gilgamesh


Beside the sea she lives,
the woman of the vine, the maker of wine;
Siduri sits in the garden at the edge of the sea,
with the golden bowl and the golden vats that the gods gave her.
She is covered with a veil;
And where she sits she sees Gilgamesh coming towards her,
wearing skins,
the flesh of the gods in his body,
but despair in his heart,
and his face like the face of one who has made a long journey.

She looked,
and as she scanned the distance she said in her own heart,
'Surely this is some felon;
where is he going now?'
And she barred her gate against him with the cross-bar
and shot home the bolt.

But Gilgamesh, hearing the sound of the bolt,
threw up his head and lodged his foot in the gate;
he called to her,
'Young woman, maker of wine,
why do you bolt your door;
what did you see that made you bar your gate?
I will break in your door
and burst into your gate,
for I am Gilgamesh
who seized and killed the Bull of Heaven,
I killed the watchman of the cedar forest,
I overthrew Humbaba who lived in the forest,
and I killed the lions in the passes of the mountain.'

Then Siduri said to him,
'If you are that Gilgamesh
who seized and killed the Bull of Heaven,
who killed the watchman of the cedar forest,
who overthrew Humbaba who lived in the forest,
and killed the lions in the passes of the mountain,
why are your cheeks so starved
and why is your face so drawn?
Why is despair in your heart
and your face like the face of one who has made a long journey?
Yes, why is your face burned from heat and cold,
and why do you come here wandering over the pastures
in search of the wind?'

Gilgamesh answered her,
'And why should not my cheeks be starved
and my face drawn?
Despair is in my heart
and my face is the face of one who has made a long journey,
it was burned with heat and with cold.
Why should I not wander over the pastures
in search of the wind?
My friend,
My younger brother,
he who hunted the wild ass of the wilderness and the panther of the plains,
my friend,
my younger brother
who seized and killed the Bull of Heaven
and overthrew Humbaba in the cedar forest,
my friend
who was very dear to me
and who endured dangers beside me,
Enkidu my brother
whom I loved,
the end of mortality has overtaken him.
I wept for him seven days and nights
till the worm fastened on him.
Because of my brother I am afraid of death,
because of my brother I stray through the wilderness
and cannot rest.
But now
young woman, maker of wine,
since I have seen your face
do not let me see the face of death
which I dread so much.'

She answered,
'Gilgamesh, where are you hurrying to?
You will never find the life for which you are looking.
When the gods created man
they alloted to him death,
but life they retained in their own keeping.
As for you, Gilgamesh,
fill your belly with good things;
day and night, night and day, dance and be merry,
feast and rejoice.
Let your clothes be fresh,
bathe yourself in water,
cherish the little child that holds your hand,
and make your wife happy in your embrace;
for this too is the lot of man.'

But Gilgamesh said to Siduri, the young woman,
'How can I be silent,
how can I rest,
when Enkidu whom I love is dust,
and I too shall die
and be laid in the earth for ever.'


Utnapishtim said,
'As for you, Gilgasmesh,
who will assemble the gods for your sake,
so that you may find that life for which you are searching?
But if you wish,
come and put it to test:
only prevail against sleep
for six days and seven nights.'

But while Gilgamesh sat there resting on his haunches,
a mist of sleep
like soft wool teased from the fleece
drifted over him,
and Utnapishtim said to his wife,
'Look at him now,
the strong man who would have everlasting life,
even now the mists of sleep are drifting over him.'

His wife replied,
'Touch the man to wake him,
so that he may return to his own land in peace,
going back through the gate by which he came.'
Utnapishtim said to his wife,
'All men are deceivers,
even you he will attempt to deceive;
therefore bake loaves of bread,
each day one loaf,
and put it beside his head;
and make a mark on the wall to number the days he has slept.'

So she baked loaves of bread,
each day one loaf,
and put it beside his head,
and she marked on the wall the days that he slept;
and there came a day
when the first loaf was hard,
the second loaf was like leather,
the third was soggy,
the crust of the fourth had mould,
the fifth was mildewed,
the sixth was fresh,
and the seventh was still on the embers.
Then Utnapishtim touched him
and he woke.

Gilgamesh said to Utnapishtim the Faraway,
'I hardly slept when you touched and roused me.'
But Utnapishtim said,
'Count these loaves
and learn how many days you slept,
for your first is hard,
your second like leather,
your third is soggy,
the crust of your fourth has mould,
your fifth is mildewed,
your sixth is fresh,
and your seventh was still over the glowing embers
when I touched and woke you.'

Gilgamesh said,
'What shall I do, O Utnapishtim,
where shall I go?
Already the thief in the night has hold of my limbs,
death inhabits my room;
wherever my foot rests,
there I find death.'


Gilgamesh, the son of Ninsun, lies in the tomb.
At the place of offerings he weighed the bread-offering,
at the place of libation he poured out the wine.
In those days the lord Gilgamesh departed,
the son of Ninsun,
the king,
peerless, without an equal among men,
who did not neglect Enlil his master.
O Gilgamesh, lord of Kullab,
Great is thy praise.

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