THE HULUPPU TREE

In days of yore, in the distant days of yore,
In nights of yore, in the far-off nights of yore,
In days of yore, in the distant days of yore,

After in days of yore all things needful had been brought into being,
After in days of yore all things needful had been ordered,
After bread had been tasted in the shrines of the Land,
After bread had been baked in the ovens of the Land,
After heaven had been moved away from earth,
After earth had been separated from heaven,
After the name of man had been fixed,
After An had carried off heaven,
After Enlil had carried off earth,
After Ereshkigal had been carried off into the nether world as its prize --

After he had set sail, after he had set sail,
After the father had set sail for the nether world,
Against the king, the small were hurled,
Against Enki, the large were hurled,
Its small stones of the hand,
Its large stones of the dancing reeds,
The keel of Enki's boat,
Overwhelm in battle like an attacking storm,
Against the king, the water at the head of the boat,
Devours like a wolf,
Against Enki, the water at the rear of the boat,
Strikes down like a lion.

Once upon a time, a tree, a huluppu, a tree --
It had been planted on the bank of the Euphrates,
It was watered by the Euphrates --
The violence of the South Wind plucked up its roots,
Tore away its crown,
The Euphrates carried it off on its waters.

The woman, roving about in fear at the word of An,
Roving about in fear at the word of Enlil,
Took the tree in her hand, brought it to Erech:
"I shall bring it to pure Inanna's fruitful garden."

The woman tended the tree with her hand, placed it by her foot,
Inanna tended the tree with her hand, placed it by her foot,
"When will it be a fruitful throne for me to sit on," she said,
"When will it be a fruitful bed for me to lie on," she said.

The tree grew big, its trunk bore no foliage,
In its roots the snake who knows no charm set up its nest,
In its crown the Imdugud-bird placed its young,
In its midst the maid Lilith built her house --
The always laughing, always rejoicing maid,
The maid Inanna -- how she weeps!

As light broke, as the horizon brightened,
As Utu came forth from the "princely field,"
His sister, the holy Inanna,
Says to her brother Utu:
"My brother, after in days of yore the fates had been decreed,
After abundance had sated the land,
After An had carried off heaven,
After Enlil had carried off earth,
After Ereshkigal had been carried off into the nether world as its prize --

After he had set sail, after he had set sail,
After the father had set sail for the nether world,
Against the king, the small were hurled,
Against Enki, the large were hurled,
Its small stones of the hand,
Its large stones of the dancing reeds,
The keel of Enki's boat,
Overwhelm in battle like an attacking storm,
Against the king, the water at the head of the boat,
Devours like a wolf,
Against Enki, the water at the rear of the boat,
Strikes down like a lion.

Once upon a time, a tree, a huluppu, a tree --
It had been planted on the bank of the Euphrates,
It was watered by the Euphrates --
The violence of the South Wind plucked up its roots,
Tore away its crown,
The Euphrates carried it off on its waters.

The woman, roving about in fear at the word of An,
Roving about in fear at the word of Enlil,
Took the tree in her hand, brought it to Erech:
‘I shall bring it to pure Inanna's fruitful garden.'

The woman tended the tree with her hand, placed it by her foot,
Inanna tended the tree with her hand, placed it by her foot,
‘When will it be a fruitful throne for me to sit on,' she said,
‘When will it be a fruitful bed for me to lie on,' she said.

The tree grew big, its trunk bore no foliage,
In its roots the snake who knows no charm set up its nest,
In its crown the Imdugud-bird placed its young,
In its midst the maid Lilith built her house --
The always laughing, always rejoicing maid,
I, the maid Inanna, how I weep!"

Her brother, the hero, the valiant Utu,
Stood not by her in this matter.

As light broke, as the horizon brightened,
As Utu came forth from the "princely field,"
His sister, the holy Inanna,
Speaks to the hero Gilgamesh:
"My brother, after in days of yore the fates had been decreed,
After abundance had sated the land,
After An had carried off heaven,
After Enlil had carried off earth,
After Ereshkigal had been carried off into the nether world as its prize --

After he had set sail, after he had set sail,
After the father had set sail for the nether world,
Against the king, the small were hurled,
Against Enki, the large were hurled,
Its small stones of the hand,
Its large stones of the dancing reeds,
The keel of Enki's boat,
Overwhelm in battle like an attacking storm,
Against the king, the water at the head of the boat,
Devours like a wolf,
Against Enki, the water at the rear of the boat,
Strikes down like a lion.

Once upon a time, a tree, a huluppu, a tree --
It had been planted on the bank of the Euphrates,
It was watered by the Euphrates --
The violence of the South Wind plucked up its roots,
Tore away its crown,
The Euphrates carried it off on its waters.

The woman, roving about in fear at the word of An,
Roving about in fear at the word of Enlil,
Took the tree in her hand, brought it to Erech:
‘I shall bring it to pure Inanna's fruitful garden.'

The woman tended the tree with her hand, placed it by her foot,
Inanna tended the tree with her hand, placed it by her foot,
‘When will it be a fruitful throne for me to sit on,' she said,
‘When will it be a fruitful bed for me to lie on,' she said.

The tree grew big, its trunk bore no foliage,
In its roots the snake who knows no charm set up its nest,
In its crown the Imdugud-bird placed its young,
In its midst the maid Lilith built her house --
The always laughing, always rejoicing maid,
I, the maid Inanna, how I weep!"

Her brother, the hero Gilgamesh,
Stood by her in this matter,
He donned armor weighing fifty minas about his waist --
Fifty minas were handled by him like thirty shekels --
His "ax of the road" --
Seven talents and seven minas -- he took in his hand,
At its roots he struck down the snake who knows no charm,
In its crown the Imdugud-bird took its young, climbed to the mountains,
In its midst the maid Lilith tore down her house, fled to the wastes.
The tree -- he plucked at its roots, tore at its crown,
The sons of the city who accompanied him cut off its branches,
He gives it to holy Inanna for her throne,
Gives it to her for her bed,
She fashions its roots into a pukku for him,
Fashions its crown into a mikku for him.

The summoning pukku -- in street and lane he made the pukku resound,
The loud drumming -- in street and lane he made the drumming resound,
The young men of the city, summoned by the pukku --
Bitterness and woe -- he is the affliction of their widows,
"O my mate, O my spouse," they lament,
Who had a mother -- she brings bread to her son,
Who had a sister -- she brings water to her brother.

After the evening star had disappeared,
And he had marked the places where his pukku had been,
He carried the pukku before him, brought it to his house,
At dawn in the places he had marked -- bitterness and woe!
Captives! Dead! Widows!

Because of the cry of the young maidens,
His pukku and mikku fell into the "great dwelling,"
He put in his hand, could not reach them,
Put in his foot, could not reach them,
He sat down at the great gate ganzir, the "eye" of the nether world,
Gilgamesh wept, his face turns pale . . . .

The Sumerians. Samuel Noah Kramer, p. 199.

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