Home > 4. Gilgamesh > Gilgamesh, the opening of tablet 5

Gilgamesh, the opening of tablet 5

File:Green mountains.JPG

RT has been laboring on tablet 5 of Gilgamesh and thinks the opening holds together pretty well at this point. Here is the text–enjoy!!  RT


They rose at dawn and climbed the Cedar Mountain,

throne of god and goddess, emblem of their might.

Crossing the long saddle, they reached the glacier,

jumped up the icefall, leaped over each crevasse.

The companions skirted the mountain’s south face,

came to a deep cleft in the ridge running east.


Looking down from their vantage, they cried out:

a forest sprawled across the mountain’s knees.

This mantle was flecked with gleaming waterfalls,

and a river hemmed the slope with silver thread.

They breathed the fragrance of cedar on the wind.

Their prize at last! The heroes saluted the gods.


The sun passed behind a raft of dark cloud;

a bitter wind reminded them of their pledge.

They picked their way down the rough slope,

strewn with boulders, came to the Forest River.

The venturers offered icy libations to the gods,

washed their feet, forded the vigorous waters.


On the far bank, they entered a crowded border:

rhododendron leaf over carpets of sphagnum moss

and deep beds of bracken and horse-head fern.

They passed the first trees—dogwood and birch—

and the lush carpet of plants dwindled away.

They stopped, gaped at the vast cordon of trees.


Forest. A curtain of trees shimmered before them,

leaves and needles glittering, branches swaying

hypnotic in the lulling breeze-trunks like pillars,

like a screen—gnarled oak and fine-grained ironwood,

Persian yew and spruce—and cedar, its trunk muscled,

its limbs spread flat, skirts of needle and cone


layered upward, disappearing in the canopy’s riot.

The wind died down, and details emerged reluctantly—

branches covered with ivy, with thick arms of vines,

draped with dense beards of fire moss and lichen.

Orchid and bromeliad laced and flecked the leaves,

Birds darted in the air; insects droned and bumbled.

© copyright, 2013, Eric Quinn

Photo: Green Mountains (Boulder County, Colorado). User: Laurascudder. WikiCmns; CC 1.0 Generic.

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  1. May 29, 2014 at 6:38 pm

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