The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

The Story

of him who knew the most of all men know;
who made the journey; heartbroken; reconciled;

who knew the way things were before the Flood,
the secret things, the mystery; who went

to the end of the earth, and over; who returned,
and wrote the story on a tablet of stone.

He built Uruk. He built the keeping place
of Anu and Ishtar. The outer wall

shines in the sun like brightest copper; the inner
wall is beyond the imagining of kings.

Study the brickwork, study the fortification;
climb the great ancient staircase to the terrace;

study how it is made; from the terrace see
the planted and fallow fields, the ponds and orchards.

This is Uruk, the city of Gilgamesh
the Wild Ox, son of Lugalbanda, son

of the Lady Wildcow Ninsun, Gilgamesh
the vanguard and the rear guard of the army,

Shadow of Darkness over the enemy field,
the Web, the Flood that rises to wash away

the walls of alien cities, Gilgamesh
the strongest one of all, the perfect, the terror.

It is he who opened passes through the mountains;
and he who dug deep wells on the mountainsides;

who measured the world; and sought out Utnapishtim
beyond the world; it is he who restored the shrines;

two-thirds a god, one-third a man, the king.
Go to the temple of Anu and Ishtar:

open the copper chest with the iron locks;
the tablet of lapis lazuli tells the story.


From Gilgamesh: A New Rendering in English Verse by David Ferry, quoted in Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in the Sunday Washington Post Book World. Pinsky labels this 1992 edition "one of the very best translations written in our time, of anything," calling the retelling of the ancient Sumerian epic "a mixture of the enigmatic and the Ferry's supercharged lines, Gilgamesh resembles a folk tale and a myth, a savage epic and a sophisticated dazzlement, stylishly elaborate as a Fabergé egg." The critic describes this first section as "the opening credits" of the poem, introducing the hero who sets out to challenge death when his beloved friend Inkidu is taken from him. (The narrative of Gilgamesh and Inkidu, who start out as enemies and end up willing to die for one another, is one of the slashiest stories ever told even if one does not read it, as does poet and translator Stephen Mitchell, as the story of the first gay marriage.)

It was a gorgeous 40ish degrees on Saturday but there was still snow covering the ground. The morning was taken up with Hebrew school and writing articles and playing The Return of the King board game with my son -- I finally got this, so we could attach our Fellowship and Two Towers games and play the massive continuous march through Middle-earth. In the afternoon we went to Black Hill Regional Park, specifically chosen because we knew it had a paved circuit path around the lake and figured it would be more likely to be navigable in our unimpressive boots than any of the muddy hiking trails. So we went to the nature center there, learned about meteors and copperheads, then walked around the lake, stopping on the way home at various stores in Milestone for recordable DVDs and cat food.

My original plan for the evening was to get the kids to bed at a reasonable hour, then watch Reign of Fire (hi Kim!) but since we had gone into Best Buy, we had, for better or worse, acquired Garfield: The Movie since my kids still have holiday money. So we started to put that on, but then my parents called and invited us out for Thai food, which is something none of us ever turn down. So Garfield didn't get put on until nearly 9 and Reign of Fire didn't get put on until nearly 10:30, and that is my excuse for not having even glanced at LJ today. I am nearly a week behind on fic communities! Please leave me recs!

Certain people (hi again, Kim!) have been telling me to watch Reign of Fire for nearly a year, but I had lost the tape and then kept getting interrupted by other things but I got a Christian Bale craving earlier last week and voila, I finally watched it. And totally loved it! Why did this film get such bad reviews when it opened? Okay, it had some really hokey historical fantasy elements welded onto dystopian sci-fi, but the acting was good, the visual effects were well-done and in addition to Bale, Gerard Butler and Matthew McConaughey, it had Alice Krige and Alexander Siddig in smaller roles and Izabella Scorupco (who was also with Siddig in Vertical Limit, one of my guilty pleasures) played a kick-ass woman who was not a cliche. It was very obvious to me that Butler's character was in love with Bale's and there really should be far more fic on this theme than I've seen.

If I think too much about the dragon-designated sex roles, I might conclude that men are given far too important a role in both human and dragon culture, but, you know, if I think too much about half of this year's Oscar nominees I will have the same problem. Sally Quinn wrote an editorial on this year's male mid-life crisis entry, Sideways, in Saturday's Washington Post that just made me so happy because I DO NOT want to see this movie and I feel utterly vindicated that her reasons for hating it are the same as my reasons for not wanting to see it, here: "Imagine, if you can, a movie about two unattractive, gross women slobs going on a week-long spree and ending up with Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck. Imagine that becoming a hit, nominated for five Academy Awards, acclaimed by critics." I loathed American Beauty -- I don't give a shit whether Kevin Spacey is supposed to be the thinking woman's sex symbol or one of the least effectively closeted big name actors in the world -- and I am not sitting through another film about guys angsting over their lives while women who could be wonderful waste their time on them. You can get me to take Paul Giamatti seriously as adorable when his girlfriend is being played by..sheesh, I can't even say "Camryn Manheim" while her new slimmed-down self is being shoved at me from magazines.

Anyway, enough thinking for the evening. From my newest friend, vamptinkerbell:

You scored as Carrot Orange. You are carrot orange. You are different and a little bit strange. Your style is your own and you don\'t like to follow the mainstream.


Carrot Orange


Lime Green




Royal Violet


Blood Red


Hot Pink


Bright Yellow


Jet Black


Pure White


Gloomy Grey


Which Crayon Color Are You??
created with

In the morning older son has Hebrew school and then is meeting with his science project group so I imagine I will be finding ways to entertain younger son in the afternoon. And at night, of course, I shall pay far more attention to that awards show than it deserves. Am rooting for Scorsese or Ray Charles to win, as I have no hope that Finding Neverland will and these awards are never about merit for an individual film anyway!

Afternoon light over Little Seneca Lake at Black Hill Regional Park.

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