Home > 3. My Poetry & Translations, 555. The Golden Thread > The First Words (A Creation Story)

The First Words (A Creation Story)


A while back, while introducing the Golden Thread to readers, RT promised that he would be ransacking his archives and publish whatever lay hidden in notebooks, scribbled on stray pieces of paper, and generally put aside over the years. Following up on his promise, RT is posting one story dug up in the attic.

RT notes that the story in question is a creation story, and that for many years creation stories and other mythological materials were one of the preoccupations of his writing. Maybe RT will always be attracted to ancient stories, Gilgamesh, for instance, and other foundational writing.

What RT can tell you at this point is that the old stories he has run across and worked with are often the product of superb storytelling, a combination of economical writing and bold (if not inspired) imagination.

In fact, RT labored almost a decade to get this story to work, not time wasted either, as his efforts have spilled over into his poetry (not to mention his choice of Gilgamesh for translation). Creation stories are tied to a writer’s deepest imaginings and desire, but also to the cultural milieu he or she is working in. They are one sign of our deep hunger for knowledge and understanding.   RT

THE FIRST WORDS  (told by Neb the Poet)


In the beginning were the two children of night, Shel the daughter of the night, and En, the son of the night, who together make up God and the Divine Purpose.

Shel, who is called Desire, brought the waters and a boat; but En, who is called Intention, brought the sky, and the things that he himself had made, the first words.  The two spirits sailed in the boat over the waters.

En soon grew bored and tried to speak with Shel, but when he talked to her she would not answer, but only looked frightened at his speech and hid her face.

At Shel’s response En grew angry and scornful.  “Stupid woman,” he thought, “she cannot help me create the world.  I will show her my power.”

So En stood up and spread out his arms.  “Sun be,” he said.  “Moon be, Earth be.”

En waited, but nothing happened.  The boat continued to rock in the waves, the sky remained a perfect blue dome, and Shel, wrapped in her cloak of night, seemed unaware of what En had tried to do.

En felt he must try again.  So he pointed to the water and said, “Fish be, dolphins be, land be.”  Nothing changed.  No living thing stirred the ocean, no mountain or island rose into the air.

Now En was furious and he thought “This is her fault.  She thinks she can stop me, but I will make the world by myself.”  So the spirit stretched himself up on his tiptoes and shouted, “BE!”  Nothing happened.

En was so angry that he jumped up and down in frustration and blamed Shel and the Night and the elements.  But Shel just rolled her eyes and looked away over the ocean.

En eventually calmed down.  He huddled at the end of the boat opposite Shel and thought what he could try next.

While En was thinking Shel stood up and came to him, and her cloak was no longer dark, but many colored like the dawn.  She kissed En on the mouth.  En was confused, and did not know what to do, so he said:  “I”

But Shel put a finger to his mouth and said:  “We”

That did not stop En, who said:  “Will”

But Shel replied:  “Want”

He continued:  “Make”

And she said:  “To love”

So it went for a while.  En said words he knew, and each time he spoke a word Shel changed it, or added to it, or made a new word.  But En wanted to know what the words meant.  He said, “I didn’t make these words.  They can’t mean anything!”

“Silly!” Shel replied.  “You haven’t spoken any of them yet.  Try them.”  So En said “soil,” and before he could take another breath his hand was filled with dark, crumbly loam.  He threw the soil into the air and shouted: “roses!” and the soil changed into roses, falling back into the boat in a splash of red and orange.

Shel laughed and said, “Now you see.  But have you told me all your words?  Tell them to me, so that we can finish making language.”  So En took up where he left off, saying all the words he knew while Shel changed them, until he said “naked” and Shel said nothing, for their clothes had vanished.  And looking at each other they both thought that this was a word that needed no changing, and then they forgot what they had been doing.

Copyright © 2013, The Rag Tree

Image: Constellations; Chris Robert Santieau. WikiCmns; Public Domain.


  1. August 15, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    The WordPress lately takes our patience away …. I leave this comment because I was unable to LIKE it ….. everlasting loading…………………. Very nice “The First Words (A Creation Story)” * clap

    • August 15, 2013 at 9:19 pm

      JartP: i understand completely; i’ve been working at a library terminal all afternoon, but, as they say, admit no impediment to blogging! RT

  2. August 15, 2013 at 8:59 pm


    • August 15, 2013 at 10:06 pm

      sh: thanks for the comment; i trust your literary judgments! RT

  1. August 18, 2013 at 5:55 am
  2. August 22, 2013 at 4:05 pm

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