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Last Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Tablet X

Siduri Whose Drinks Refresh the Soul
The Boatman, Urshanabi
Gilgamesh Implores Utnapishtim

Column I

Siduri had a tavern on the road by the sea.
She sometimes sat there veiled and watched the road in dying sun light.
Her bowl was gold in the pale evening light.
The sea waters were pale in the evening light.
Gilgamesh the king she saw as he walked nearer on the road.
Like a wild man was he dressed.
In animal skins, covered all in hair,
Though he was two parts divine, one part mortal.

Siduri felt fear of this animal man two parts divine.
She closed the tavern, locked it tight.
Gilgamesh heard the door closing, it being locked tight.
Gilgamesh he yelled at her through the door.

"Why do you hide? Open it or I will break through the door!
Shall I have to break through this door?"

Siduri with her tavern by the sea said to Gilgamesh:

"I am afraid of what I see on your face drawn so tight and thin. Why are you this way?
What misfortune has robbed your youth? What sorrow eats your soul?
What long hot journey has sapped your flesh? And why did you depart your familiar home?"

Gilgamesh responded thus:

"Woman, great deeds have I done in short time every one.

I killed demon Hawawa in cedar forest far.
I killed the Bull of Heaven threatening Uruk's sacred walls.
Life is short
But standing together two friends can prevail against all life's troubles.
Hear me now. I slew but slew not alone.
My friend Enkidu, wild heart like star from heaven did beside me stand.
This was Enkidu, my soul's good half,who raced with wild beasts on the plain,
Who sought to tame the WIld Ox Gilgamesh
Who sought the mountain pass, and deep water in desert dry
Who helped slay Hawawa evil guardian of cedar forest far
Who gave bellowing Bull of Heaven a pull of tail to steady the beast for my slaughtering axe."

Column II

Gilgamesh continued:
"Life is short.
But standing together two friends can prevail.
And when the gods did conspire to bring the short time to an end of my fair Enkidu
Then I wept for seven days for the lost past with Enkidu, and for my future death surely so soon to come.
Then into wilderness did I walk, in animal skin and with lenghtening hair.
Walking. Walking. Walking over hills, never feeling inner peace so I could rest.
Could I rest when surely will I pursue Enkidu to the grave?
O Woman! Tell me now how to get to Utnapishtim.
Where are the road signs? Point the way. Help me find what I do seek."
"Tell me, girl, how to get to Utnapishtim.
Where do I look for signs? Show me directions. Help,
Please let me have safe passage over seas.
Give me advice to guide me on my way."

Siduri said quickly through door still still barred,

"No man walks on the deadly night sea as Shamash does.
Shamash is the only one who can.
When mortal takes a step
Quick he sinks, and just as quick comes death."

Column III

Siduri continued her speech to wild looking Gilgamesh:

"O Might King, remember now that only gods stay in eternal watch
Humans come then go, that is the way fate decreed on the Tablets of Destiny.
So someday you will depart, but till that distant day
Sing, and dance

Eat your fill of warm cooked food and cool jugs of beer.
Cherish the children your love gave life.
Bathe away life's dirt in warm drawn waters.
Pass the time in joy with your chosen wife."
On the Tablets of Destiny it is decreed
For you to enjoy short pleasures for your short days."
And what would you get, mortal man, could you receive from Urshanabi in mountains of Utnapishtim?
The dead know only the dead, and you the living shall he never attend to.
But if he listens to your words, and replies with supportive word then go further on the way with him
But if he walks away, return to me."
With these words in his ear, Gilgamesh did to sea turn.
Gilgamesh did now walk toward the crosser over the deadly sea and his solid boat.
Gilgamesh tore through bush and did leap high
And down on boat did he bring
His axe so that Urshanabi could not deny by flight safe passage to this Wild Ox's heart.
And Urshanabi barely saw the arrow's glint and too late heard the ax's thud.
And so surprised was he that there was never any chance to
hide or to deny the daring man at least a chance at some safe passage.
This ferryman Urshanabi did this to Gilgamesh say:
"Your face is clenched with grief's tight grip
And dead seems where you're at.
You act as if you had no home except wilderness terribly born."
Gilgamesh replied to the ferryman:
"True it be my face is clenched with grief's tight grip
And surely I be better dead than feel as I do now.
But choose I this not random walk but seeking quest to find the one of my mourning grief.
Enkidu, my loyal friend, who ran with wild herding beasts, and clashed with wild predator
It is for him whom I grieve.
Enkidu my friend for ever more will I remember who we strove two together to prevail over highest mountain and deepest valley in order to both serve and defy the gods above.
With Enkidu I did overthrow Hawawa of cedar forest far, and slew most dead Bull Of Heaven who came from on high.
With Enkidu I did all this but then he died, and left me weep, fit only to weep over his rotting corpse.
With Enkidu nothing I feared for long, and now I fear all but to roam.
But I roam alone with only his memory by my side.
For Enkidu now I must roam, never stopping my weary steps.
If I stop my roaming then my heart, half gone with Enkidu has left, will stop.
Over many seas and across many mountains I roam.I can't stop pacing. I can't stop crying.
How soon will I be dead, for that is what I dread and what I must seek?"

Urshanabi replied once more

"Your face is clenched with grief's tight grip
And dead seems where you're at.
You act as if you had no home except wilderness terribly born."
And Gilgamesh said to him then in swift reply:

"Worn out am I now from endless roaming and crying too.
What direction should I take to Utnapishtim, immortal that he be?
Point me the way to his doorstep so from him I may learn the secret of ever lasting life."
free beyond death's deep, deep lake. Where can he be?
Tell me how to venture there where I may learn his secrets."

Finally, Urshanabi uttered these honest words to Gilgamesh:

"You yourself have brought this on by destroying Enlil set guardian of cedar forest far,
And did you not break the stoney image of the Bull of Heaven with your very own axe?
For this sacrilege do you now repent?
If so give your axe in give me sixty poles and sixty poles for yon boat of mine.
Now head shamed sorely like muscles over pulled,
Gilgamesh did raise his axe to strike
Cedar trees down in order to make poles for ferryboat on high.
So sixty poles then sixty more did Gilgamesh make with axe and sword.
Brass rings did he make, and in pitch did these he set

So pole could be held with hand in steady spot.
With this wood brought to Urshanabi.
They made the boat ready to be launched.
And together one pulling while the other pushed moved the ferryboat into the deadly sea.

They with strength divine did cross the deadly sea in three days
Where mortals could only half as far cross in three full moon appearances.

Column IV #

Urshanabi called to king in wild animal skins:

"Pull your oar yet once againl, Gilgamesh,
Give pulls ten times twenty, and then give pulls twenty times ten
And then twice more ten.
When this you have done, forget the number you have done, and do it all over again.
But as you pole remember this, touch not these deadly waters with your hands."
So Gilgamesh two part divine did push so hard that sixty times then sixty times more did his pushing pole break.
But from his back his wild animal skins did Gilgamesh take
And hoisted it as a sail on central mast
So the ferry still moved over the deadly sea to yonder shore.
Column III


Column IV

On yonder shore Utnapishtim look towards the boat
and spoke aloud as if to ask the world:

"There are two in that boat, one is the natural guide
The other has committed blasphemy and sacrilege.
Am I blind?
I cannot see who is that who stands the helm on the ferry of the deadly sea."

Column V #

When the boat did grind ashore
Utnapishtim did to Gilgamesh say
"your face is gripped with grief's tight hand

And dead seems where you're at.
You act as if you had no home except wilderness terribly born.
You wear wild animal skins and have wilderness roamed.
Why has all this come to past?"

Gilgamesh to Utnapishtim did say:
"I never rested. I never slept. Grief consumed me.
My clothing was wild animal skins when
The woman who helped me did I meet.
All this because Enkidu, my friend, was dead.
Enkidu who died to satisfy some divine decree from above.
A decree to punish us most sore
With Death Wild Man Enkidu
Who with beasts did run
Who found the mountain passes
Who found water in dry desert sand
Who urged me on to cedar forest far
Who helped me slay demon Hawawa.
Who then helped me break the Bull of Heaven.
A decree which punished me with Enkidu's death.
Which punished me by watching on his body foul worms feast
Which punished me by keep my grief as close to me as skin
Which punished me by having me roam in wilderness
Which punished me by having me wear unshorn hair
Which punished me by having me wear wild animal skins
Which punished me by having Siduri bar me with her tavern door
Which punished me by having me roam."

Column VI #

Utnapishtim replied:

"You are two parts divine from virgin Ninsun, mother yours
Why does your one part mortal domineer?
What surprise is it when building finally falls?
What surprise is it when friends finally fight?
What surprise is it rivers swell and flood?
What surprise is it when insects die?
What surprise is it when sun gazing eye does blind?
When the heaven came down, when the heaven did rise, from then nothing stays the same.
Sleep is but practice for the lying still of the dead.
Rich clothes on peasant do still fit.
And both farmer and king will rot when their time is gone.
The Anunnaku have decided together that first there is life, and then comes death to everything.
Aruru has decreed that no one shall know when comes their time to sleep for ever more.

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