Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



Enkidu and Shamhat

He grazed on grasses with the gazelles,
he had a man's arms and the long hair of a girl,
he drank from the same water as the cows and goats,
and bathed with the hippos at the waterhole.
Now he raised his eyes from the spray and saw Shamhat,

the air shook from his eyes to hers,
time slowed down, air became mere temperature,
the animals merged into the distant background.
Her robe slipped from her long legs as she dipped her knee,
it parted at her round breasts as she leant forward,

she knew how to draw him to her,
she felt the fine line of his jaw with her finger,
her hand stroked down his chest, then dived lower,
he fell onto her and she took his energy,
for six days and seven nights his flesh burnt with fire

then he went to the waterhole to wash off his sweat.
The gazelles lifted their horns and cantered away
but now his legs were too tired to follow them.
Shamhat whispered to him: Come let me take you
to the city of Uruk, to the temple, the lute and the lyre.


Note: This poem is inspired by a scene in the 'Epic of Gilgamesh' which dates from the early Mesopotamian period.

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