Home > 3. My Poetry & Translations, 4. Gilgamesh > Gilgamesh, Tablet 5: Decisions, Decisions

Gilgamesh, Tablet 5: Decisions, Decisions

File:Cedrus libani "Cedar of Lebanon" (Pinaceae) (tree).JPG


Here’s a puzzle for RT: which of the following versions of a stanza from tablet 5 of Gilgamesh is the one he should use? Each was composed using a different metrical scheme. Decisions, decisions…

version 1:

Enkidu recovered his voice, challenged the ghoul:

“How could you dirty his pure and immortal name,

utter such blasphemy, make such a threat?

I owe you nothing! You would have devoured me,

savored my liver and heart, licked my skull.

But Enlil intervened, restrained your greed.”


version 2:

Enkidu recovered his voice:

“How could you soil his name,” he said,

“show such reckless irreverence?

You would have devoured me,

dined on my liver and heart,

but Enlil muzzled your gaping maw.”


version 3:

Enkidu recovered his voice, spoke:

“How could you insult such a pure name?

I owe you nothing—nothing! Your cannibal rage

would have torn me limb from limb,

devoured my liver and heart, licked my skull,

but Enlil leashed your appetite.”


copyright © 2014, The Rag Tree.

PhotoCedrus libani var. libani, Cambridge University Botanic Garden. Author: Magnus Manske. WikiCmns.CC Attribution ShareAlike 3.0.


  1. October 31, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    Well, I prefer the first. It flows well, has no jarring phrases, and well represents the speech of someone tumbling over their words in rage/anger etc.

  2. November 6, 2014 at 1:59 am

    sh: version 1 is the current text for the passage and has benefited from a lot of rewriting, so i’m inclined to keep it. i’ve been reading up on metrical technique, and felt the need to practice on some of my current writing. RT

  3. November 11, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Version 2 is my favorite. It conveys the meaning in the most succinct, poetic manner – for me.

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