Belânu and Iltani - Part 1

Not direct do I dare speak,
Not direct do I dare speak
To the most beautiful Lady in Babylon,
Not direct to the wondrous Lady Iltani
Do I, all unworthy, venture to speak.
These are but the thoughts of my heart
Upon first beholding her,
Which I set forth
That she may look upon them
Or not look upon them
As seemeth best to her.

In the Street of Procession it was,
Near the gate of Ishtar
On this seventh morning
Seven times blessed
Of the fourth month
That I first beheld her.
Not foreknowing, I lifted up mine eyes
Not forewarned by a kindly dream,
I lifted up mine eyes
Thinking to look on usual things,
Thinking to behold only
The sacred Unicorns and Dragons
That adorn the gate of Ishtar,
When lo! the beauty of the Lady Iltani!
Like a sword of glorious elmêshu,
Like a sword wrought from the precious stone elmêshu,
That is brighter and clearer than rock crystal,
And whose heart is a rainbow, —
Like a spear cast by Bêl-Marduk
From the armoury of the Sun,
Her beauty smote my eyes,
Pierced my heart,
Severed my heart-strings.
My heart twanged and ceased
Like a broken lyre.
I was as one blind, dead,
As one cast into the Terrible Cave Arala
Where is existence without life.

O all wonderful life! Gift of Shamash!
Greatest gift of the great Sun-God!
It was taken from me
And given back again,
But not by Thee, O Shamash!

For through my darkness,
Through my sick darness,
Shined the smile of Iltani
Knitting again my severed heart-strings,
Restoring to me one part of that which she had taken,
Restoring my life,
But O Shamash! Bêl! Ishtar, Princess of Love!
Keeping in her little hands
That which alone makes life precious
My sweet desire!
Holding in her soft throttling hands
As children hold a bird,
My wild winged desire!

Against the fierce blue and emerald scales
Of a dragon of Ishtar,
Cunningly enamelled
Upon the wall of her Sacred gate,
The face of Iltani,
Crowned by her hair as by a flower of copper,
Shone wonderful,
Milder than a moonstone.

Little moon-fair face,
Little face of Iltani!
Shall I ever feel you against my heart?
My heart that is all unlike the moon,
My heart that you, O tiny thing,
Yet greater than Shamash,
Have turned into a blazing sun of love!
Far and wide have I journeyed,
Over many waters, in many lands,
Yet never have I beheld a sight so lovely
As the face of the Lady Iltani
Shining like a moon-jewel,
Against the blue and emerald armour
Of Ishtar's dragon.
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