The wedge sank five times into the clay,
and a word, which had been spoken in a breath,
lay still until the godsâ€™ names were forgotten.
Then, when strangers took the tile in hand,
while stars sailed into the dark
beyond the world, the dead tongue
in the clay began to speak.
This poem appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, May 2008 edition. If you liked the poem, click through in order to encourage more of the same from the author and magazine.
I’m not sure which gods he had in mind that one could form with just five strikes of the stylus onto the clay–even “dinger utu” would probably require at least six strikes–three for “dinger” and three for “utu.” He may have meant “five times” in a looser sense to cover the writing of five names. In any case, anyone know of a deity that can be written at least somewhat properly (there is at times tremendous variation in the cuneiform orthography) in five strikes or less including the dinger sign?