U is for Uta-napishtim ….
You gotta believe me….
Tim: How did you find that word?
Me: I typed “U-t” into Google and it was the third one down.
So, who or what is a Uta-napishtim? He’s actually a guy, and, for all intents and purposes, he most likely still is a guy since he was accorded immortal life after surviving the Flood as described in The Epic of Gilgamesh. Before you go thinking that it’s only from Gilgamesh that we know of Uta-napishtim, it turns out that’s not the only source for this person. The Sumerians knew him as a wise king and priest of Shurrupak. In Akkadian tradition, he was merely this wise citizen of Shurrupak. Both traditions agree that he was (is?) the son of Ubara-Tutu, and that, translated, his name means “He Who Saw Life.”
In The Epic of Gilgamesh, it is Uta-napishtim who tells the story of the Flood—how one of the gods got uppity and, without asking anyone, decided to wipe out humanity. One of the other gods found out about it and whispered through the walls of Uta-napishtim’s house for him to build an ark. Unlike the Biblical story of Noah, there was no call to repentance before the rains came down and the flood came up, rather, Uta-napishtim was instructed to tell the people where he lived that there was a party going on and that there should be feasting and merriment. So, while Uta-napishtim built his ark (and then gave his house to the guy who caulked the entire thing), the party went on and no one was the wiser. Until the rain started….
Sometimes Babylonian gods were just jerks.
The clouds were so dense that the other gods looked down and couldn’t see the Earth. Ishtar (it’s said) wept for the loss of humanity. Well, when the ark came to rest and Uta-napishtim popped out of it, the god who had started all this was quite annoyed that all of humanity wasn’t wiped out. I mean, you’ve got this guy who survives it. What’s up with that? So, one of the gods grants Uta-napishtim immortality and whisks him away to live at “the mouth of the rivers.” He was given the epithet “Faraway” (as in Uta-napishtim The Faraway), and his name came to mean “he found life.”
The Sumerians say that he lives in Dilmun, where the sun rises.
When Gilgamesh found him, he was stunned to see what looked like a mortal man and not a demon. Why, then, could not Gilgamesh have immortal life?
Well, you see … there was this problem …
Poetry Form: Un-wreathed Octave
Later poets realised that some Irish forms led with an internal form and from that was born Un-wreathed poetry, simply the reverse of Wreathed in that the first line starts with an internal rhyme with the second external and so on, there being no fifth line there is no external rhyme, giving it a basic rhyme scheme of:
|x. b. x. x. x. x. x. a.
x. a. x. x. x. x. x. b.
x. b. x. x. x. x. x. a.
x. c. x. x. x. x. x. b.
x. d. x. x. x. x. x. c.
x. c. x. x. x. x. x. d.
x. d. x. x. x. x. x. c.
x. x. x. x. x. x. x. d.
Extinction, Babylonian God-Style
He was Uta-napishtim called
And stalled he death at water’s pause
For ‘twas the will of gods appalled
Who looked to Earth through cloud-like gauze
And did behold our goose well-cooked
The hook upon which one did bid
To rid this orb in every nook
Of human’s race that faltered, slid.