2015 was full of distractions and challenges for RT, which has kept him from opining in these pages for some time. Major life changes confront him, but this is how things happen. At heart, though, he remains a writer and feels the call of his several projects, not least of which is The Rag Tree. His mother’s memoir, A Daughter’s Song and Dance, is finished, but RT can only say that its publication is as imminent as anything else in his life right now.
The memoir is not the only project that RT has completed but been unable to share with the public. At the end of 2014, he finished a video that features an audio file of him reading his prologue to Gilgamesh, accompanied by various illustrations from the internet. He uploaded the video onto YouTube, hoping to attract more attention to his translation. Then things got complicated.
Things are now somewhat less complicated, and RT is posting a link to the video below. Eventually, he would like to put all of the translation up on YouTube. In the meantime, he hopes that the current offering will propitiate the god of complications and entertain his readers.
Happy New Year, and here’s to a wonderful 2016! RT
Image: Grabado de Nimrod. WikiCmns. Public Domain.
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…
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.”
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.”
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.
Photo: Cedrus libani var. libani, Cambridge University Botanic Garden. Author: Magnus Manske. WikiCmns.CC Attribution ShareAlike 3.0.
Could Gilgamesh (or at least Enkidu) have something to do with the Abominable Snowman? Well, probably not, though the idea will doubtless exercise RT’s roving writing at some level.
And roving it has been! Van Gogh, a fine collection of personal essays, and a book on the 2008 disaster on K2 have all come across RT’s already sagging lap-desk.
On a more serious note, RT has begun work on tablet 6. Nothing is quite what it looks like with a Gilgamesh tablet. Tab 6 is the most complete tablet (except 11) in the original materials, and RT breezed through it the first time around. RT is satisfied with much of what emerged as a gift back then, but he is also aware that the most difficult part of the epic is its continuo, all the stuff that makes the story coherent as a whole–transitions, themes, meters, and what not. So it with a wary (but not weary) eye that he proceeds. All roads (however unlikely) lead to tablet 6… RT
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.
cowabunga! look at what RT has turned up on Gilgamesh….
(reposted from Amy’s Place)
(and if you’re interested in RT’s version of tablets 1-4, stop by lulu and order a copy)
A certain lighthearted whimsy has overtaken RT since publishing the first four tablets of Gilgamesh this morning. In the spirit of the moment, he offers this drawing…
Drawing: Here Comes the Parade (1881); Ida Waugh; WikiCmns; Public Domain.