When Allat saw the flaming herald come,
And his bright light dispelling all her gloom,
She beat her breast; and at him furious foams
In rage, and stamping shakes all Hades' domes,
Thus cursed the herald, At-su-su-namir:
"Away! thou herald! or I'll chain thee here
In my dark vaults, and throw thee for thy food
The city's garbage, which has stagnant stood,
With impure waters for thy daily drink,
And lodge thee in my prison till you sink
From life impaled in yonder dismal room
Of torture; to thy fate so thou hast come?
Thine offspring with starvation I will strike!"
At last obedient doth Allat speak:
"Go, Namtar! and the iron palace strike!
O'er Asherim 1 adorned let the dawn break!
And seat the spirits on their thrones of gold!
Let Ishtar Life's bright waters then behold,
And drink her fill, and bring her then to me;
From her imprisonment, I send her free."
And Namtar then goes through the palace walls,
And flings the light through all the darkened halls,
And places all the spirits on their thrones,
Leads Ishtar to the waters near the cones 1.
She drinks the sparkling water now with joy,
Which all her form doth cleanse and purify.
And he at the first gate her robe returns,
And leads her through the second; where he turns,[paragraph continues]
And gives her bracelets back;--thus at each door
Returns to her her girdle, gems; then o'er
Her queenly brow he placed her shining crown.
With all her ornaments that were her own,
She stands with pride before the seventh gate,
And Namtar bows to her in solemn state:
"Thou hast no ransom to our queen here paid
For thy deliverance, yet thou hast said
Thy Tammuz thou didst seek within our walls,
Turn back! and thou wilt find him in these halls.
To bring him back to life the waters pour
Upon him; they thy Tammuz will restore;
With robes thou mayst adorn him and a crown
Of jewels, and thy maid with thee alone
Shall give thee comfort and appease thy grief.
Kharimtu, Samkha come to thy relief!"
Now Ishtar lifts her eyes within a room
Prepared for her, and sees her maidens come,
Before a weird procession wrapped in palls,
That soundless glide within and fills the halls.
Before her now they place a sable bier
Beside the fount-, and Ishtar, drawing near,
Raised the white pall from Tammuz's perfect form.
The clay unconscious, had that mystic charm
Of Beauty sleeping sweetly on his face,--
Of agony or sorrow left no trace:
But, oh! that awful wound of death was there
With its deep mark;--the wound, and not the scar.
When Ishtar's eyes beheld it, all her grief
Broke forth afresh, refusing all relief;
She smote her breast in woe, and moaning cried,
Nor the bright waters to his wound applied:
"O Tammuz! Tammuz! turn thine eyes on me!
Thy queen thou didst adorn, before thee see!
Behold the emeralds and diamond crown
Thou gavest me when I became thine own!
Alas! he answers not; and must I mourn
Forever o'er my love within this bourne?
But, oh! the waters from this glowing stream!
Perhaps those eyes on me with love will beam,
And I shall hear again his song of love.
Oh, quickly let these waters to me prove
Their claim to banish death with magic power!"
Then with her maids, she o'er his form doth pour
The sparkling drops of life-
"He moves! he lives!
What happiness is this my heart receives?
O come, my Tammuz! to my loving arms!"
And on breast his breathing form she warms;
With wondering eyes he stares upon his queen,
And nestling closed his eyes in bliss again.
98:1 "Asherim," literally "stone stakes" or "cones," the symbols of the goddess Asherah or Ishtar (Sayce), but Calmet says that the god Ashima is a deity of very uncertain origin, and that the name "Ashima" may very well compared with the Persian "asuman" ("heaven"); in "Zend," "acmano," so Gesonius in his Man. Lex., 1832. This also, according to the magi, is the name of the angel of death, who separates the souls of men from their bodies, Cal. Dic. p. 106. Cones are to be seen in the British Museum which are probably of the character which represented Elah-Gabalah, the sun-god, adored in Rome during the reign of Heliogabalus. The symbol and worship came from Hamath in Syria.