Home > 3. My Poetry & Translations, 4. Gilgamesh > Whatever Happened to Gilgamesh?

Whatever Happened to Gilgamesh?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about the status of my translation/version of The Epic of Gilgamesh. It’s been something of a struggle, since I’ve moved back into my old apartment space & am blogging via the local library/computer lab. The good news is I’m getting better at beating the 45-minute time limit (& at using the generous access to 10-minute increment extensions). The status of the tablets is as follows:

1) Tablets I & II: Finished and copyrighted (2004).

2) Tablet III: In almost complete second draft since 2005. Utu’s speech to Gilgamesh near the tablet’s beginning needs to be completed, and a general brushing up of the language is advisable. Tablet III may also end up being the longest tablet in my version, so some cutting (or perhaps breaking the tablet in two) may be required to get it over the top.

3) Tablets IV & V: These may end up being the most frustrating tablets, because my second drafts disappeared when my hard-drive got chewed by a monster virus back at the end of ’08. The good news is that no work is lost, and I’m making good process at reconstructing the lost materials. Tablet IV has the additional problem of being the most repetitive tablet, making research and close attention to each section critical. But the good news is that in the last few days, Tab 4 has made excellent progress. More research to be done, for sure, but I’m feeling like the worst of the reconstruction may be over…

Tablet VI: In first draft, but the first half of the draft just flowed right out of me, and I’m getting a better sense of how to handle the remainder of the text.

Tablets VII-VIII: Ah, the death tablets, which contain the account of Enkidu’s death and Gilgamesh’s mourning for him. I thought Tab 7 was finished back in the spring, but have reworked it substantially to include rhymes and improve the tablet’s cohesion. Tab 8 is nearly done, with some work on the poetics of the list of funeral goods all that remains unfinished.

Tablets IX and X. Gilgamesh’s search for eternal life. I finished a 100-line excerpt from Tab 9 for my chapbook, Amassunu, back in 2010; the rest of these tablets is in first draft (though I’ve begun working with Siduri’s episode at the start of Tab 10–a strange and mystical representation of the goddess.

Tablets XIa & XIb. The Sumerian Flood. Actually, there’s only one tablet, but I’ve broken it in two to fill out the story of the Flood and Gilgamesh’s return to Uruk. In first draft, but I’ve begun playing with the poetics of the Flood story–the emotional climax of the epic and a passage that will surely require everything I can throw at it, including the poetic kitchen sink. I reach some unusual conclusions about the Quest for Eternal Life and what happens to Gilgamesh at the end. Stay tuned to this bat-channel to find out more…. 😉



Photo: Cylinder Seal and Impression. WikiCmns. Src: Jastrow. Public Domain.

  1. November 14, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I’ve read the epic of Gilgamesh. Good stuff. Good luck on getting this all done.

  2. March 22, 2012 at 2:04 am

    I am glad to see you working on Gilgamesh. I’ve read most of the world’s epics that have been written or translated into English, although not all of them, and Gilgamesh is certainly worth working on. Good luck with an ambitious and difficult project. I, for one, admire you for it.

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