Babylonian and Assyrian Literature eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 283 pages of information about Babylonian and Assyrian Literature.

[Footnote 2:  Mr. Sayce translates thus:  “the path of the sun.”]

[Footnote 3:  He also names the monsters “the scorpion men,” and refers to an Assyrian cylinder on which two composite winged monsters are carved, with the winged emblem of the supreme god in the centre above them.  The monsters have the feet of lions and the tails of scorpions.  See illustration in Smith’s revised edition, by Sayce, “Chald.  Acc. of Gen.,” p. 276.  The monsters were supposed to fly ahead of the sun, and as it passed guide it along its orbit.]

COLUMN VI

IZDUBAR ENTERS HADES—­THE SONG OF THE DALKHI IN THE CAVERN OF HORRORS—­THE KING PASSES THROUGH HADES TO THE GARDEN OF THE GODS, AND SEES THE WONDERFUL FOUNTAIN OF LIFE’S WATERS

In a weird passage to the Under-World,
Where demon shades sit with their pinions furled
Along the cavern’s walls with poisonous breath,
In rows here mark the labyrinths of Death. 
The King with torch upraised, the pathway finds,
Along the way of mortal souls he winds,
Where shades sepulchral, soundless rise amid
Dark gulfs that yawn, and in the blackness hide
Their depths beneath the waves of gloomy lakes
And streams that sleep beneath the sulphurous flakes
That drift o’er waters bottomless, and chasms;
Where moveless depths receive Life’s dying spasms. 
Here Silence sits supreme on a drear throne
Of ebon hue, and joyless reigns alone
O’er a wide waste of blackness,—­solitude
Black, at her feet, there sleeps the awful flood
Of mystery which grasps all mortal souls,
Where grisly horrors sit with crests of ghouls,
And hateless welcome with their eyes of fire
Each soul;—­remorseless lead to terrors dire;
And ever, ever crown the god of Fate;
And there, upon her ebon throne she sate
The awful fiend, dark goddess Mam-mitu,
Who reigns through all these realms of La-Atzu.[1]

But hark! what are these sounds within the gloom? 
And see! long lines of torches nearer come! 
And now within a recess they have gone;
The King must pass their door! perhaps some one
Of them may see him! turn the hags of gloom
Upon him, as he goes by yonder room! 
He nearer comes, and peers within; and see! 
A greenish glare fills all the cave! and he
Beholds a blaze beneath a cauldron there;
Coiled, yonder lie the Dragons of Despair;
And lo! from every recess springs a form
Of shapeless horror! now with dread alarm
He sees the flitting forms wild whirling there,
And awful wailings come of wild despair: 
But hark! the dal-khis’ song rings on the air! 
With groans and cries they shriek their mad despair: 

    Oh, fling on earth, ye demons dark,
      Your madness, hate, and fell despair,
    And fling your darts at each we mark,
      That we may welcome victims here.

    Then sing your song of hate, ye fiends,
      And hurl your pestilential breath,
    Till every soul before us bends,
      And worship here the god of Death.

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Babylonian and Assyrian Literature from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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