06 December 2007

Herbert Mason's Gilgamesh

[from Herbert Mason's Gilgamesh, 2003]

All that is left to one who grieves
Is convalescence. No change of heart or spiritual
Conversion, for the heart has changed
And the soul has been converted
To a thing that sees
How much it costs to lose a friend it loved.
It has grown past conversion to a world
Few enter without tasting loss
In which one spends a long time waiting
For something to move one to proceed.
It is that inner atmosphere that has
An unfamiliar gravity or none at all
Where words are flung out in the air but stay
Motionless without an answer,
Hovering about one's lips
Or arguing back to haunt
The memory with what one failed to say,
Until one learns acceptance of the silence
Amidst the new debris
Or turns again to grief
As the only source of privacy,
Alone with someone loved.
It could go on for years and years,
And has, for centuries,
For being human holds a special grief
Of privacy within the universe
That yearns and waits to be retouched
By someone who can take away
The memory of death.

[the earliest versions of Gilgamesh are dated 2150-2000 BC]

Gilgamesh: A Verse Narrative

1 comment:

  1. I like the Herbert Mason translation too. My bookclub for writers read the Stephen Mitchell translation/adaptation, and boy howdy does Mitchell take liberties with the text, all in the name of being "accessible." However, we are all now confirmed Gilgamesh fans, so that's good. It's a strangely modern story, this first recorded story.