Enkidu’s Life

by Santos Krishnan, June 2014

300 words

1 page


“Humbaba’s mouth is fire; his roar the floodwater;

his breath is death. Enlil made him guardian

of the Cedar Forest, to frighten off the mortal

who would venture there. But who would venture

there? Humbaba’s mouth is fire; his roar

is the floodwater; he breathes and there is death.

He hears the slightest sound somewhere in the Forest.

Enlil made him terrifying guardian,

Whose mouth is fire, whose roar the floodwater. ”

—Tablet II

“What could I offer

the queen of love in return, who lacks nothing at all?

Balm for the body? The food and drink of the gods?

I have nothing to give to her who lacks nothing at all.

You are the door through which the cold gets in.

You are the fire that goes out. You are the pitch

that sticks to the hands of the one who carries the bucket.

You are the house that falls down. You are the shoe

that pinches the foot of the wearer. The ill-made wall

that buckles when time has gone by. The leaky

water skin soaking the water skin carrier. ”

—Tablet VI

3. “Enkidu, . . . your mother is a gazelle,

and . . . your father who created you, a wild ass.

[You were] raised by creatures with tails,

and by the animals of the wilderness, with all its breadth.

The paths going up to and down from the forest of cedars

All mourn you: the weeping does not end day or night.”

—Tablet VIII

4. “As for you, Gilgamesh, let your belly be full,

Make merry day and night.

Of each day make a feast of rejoicing.

Day and night dance and play!

Let your garments be sparkling fresh,

Your head be washed; bathe in water.

Pay heed to a little one that holds on to your hand,

Let a spouse delight in your bosom”.

—Tablet X

5. “And so they traveled until they reached Uruk.

There Gilgamesh the king said to the boatman:

“Study the brickwork, study the fortification;

climb the ancient staircase to the terrace;

study how it is made; from the terrace see

the planted and fallow fields, the ponds and orchards.

One league is the inner city, another league

is orchards; still another the fields beyond;

over there is the precinct of the temple. . . . ,

Three leagues and the temple precinct of Ishtar.”

Measure Uruk, the city of Gilgamesh

—Tablet XI

6. “How long does a building stand before it falls?

How long does a contract last? How long will brothers

share the inheritance before they quarrel?

How long does hatred, for that matter, last?

Time after time the river has risen and flooded.

The insect leaves the cocoon to live but a minute.

How long is the eye able to look at the sun?

From the very beginning nothing at all has lasted.”

7. “The dream was marvellous but the terror was great; we must treasure the dream whatever the terror; for the dream has shown that misery comes at last to the healthy man, the end of his life is sorrow.”

8. “Gilgamesh, where are you hurrying to? You will never find that life for which you are looking. When the gods created man they allotted to …

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