What the Shed Looks At

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Admonitions of Ipuwer

So for the 500th post I have been working on rewriting and updating an ancient Egyptian lament thought to be written in or about the First Intermediate Period of Egyptian history. It's name is The Admonitions of Ipuwer. It's very long and parts of it are missing but I post here the first four chapters of it rewritten for modern times. I hope you like it and I seriously want feedback to know how this looks to others besides myself.


The gate-keepers say "Look, the riches of the countryside are ours for the taking."
The candyman is murdered on the front pages
The washman carries our loads of laundry no more.
The hunting man has drawn up in battle and the intellectuals have turned their books into shields.
The brewers of ale are, in their hearts, destitute and sad.
Fathers turn against sons.
Confusion reigns over man as one reigns over another.
Come and conquer, judge.
Fulfill the destiny that was ordained for you in the time of Hamilton, fortified in the Gilded Age.
The farmer mourns what has hapened to the land and the stockbroker goes through the land until the tribes of the world are Americans everywhere.
Indeed, the face is pale.
The inevitable foretold by our ancestors has arrived at the culmination of our commercial pursuits.
The land is full of extremists and amn sleeps with his gun.
Indeed the meek say "He who is pale of face is a well-born man."
Indeed, it is pale, the taser is ready, wrongdoing is everywhere and there are no more men of yesterday.
Indeed the gatekeepers have arrived and are everywhere and the servant takes what he can.
Indeed the Agallala thirsts yet no man cares for it.
Everyone says "We do not know what will happen throughout the land."
Indeed the conditions are bleak and the learned fear to conceive.
God fashions Men no more because of the condition of the land.


Indeed, the poor have such beautiful baubles and he who can not build with his hands is a possessor of many riches.
Indeed, the workers hearts are sad and our representatives do not intermingle with us when they are shouting.
Indeed, dwellers in the shadow have violence in their hearts, pandemic panics run through the veins of our culture, the children lay in the streets, misery is not lacking and one hears murmurs in the graveyard.
The bodies of the unfortunate haunt the riverbeds of our ancestral home until the mouth is dead and the graveyards become our streams.
The high class make lamentations while the poor man is fed on bread and circuses.
Everywhere is heard the cry "Tear down the powerful among us."
Men root through the garbage for food. Squalor is throughout the land and none is pure.
The Earth spins faster these days and the thief is become a rich man and the rich man is become a thief.
Indeed, trusty servants can be found no longer and the poor man crys "How terrible! What am I to do?"
The rivers run with blood yet some men drink of it. Men shrink from humans and thirst for the sea.
The infrastructure crumbles around us yet the palaces stand firm and endure.
Indeed, the Mississippi Delta is fractured and dissolute and Detroit has become a wasteland.
Beasts roam the land and feed on the birds and men go to feed these beasts willingly.
It is the destruction of the land.
Men say "Do not listen." They hear designs in the shadows and tread society like fishes in water who can not distinguish a net because of terror.
Indeed, Men are few and he who kills his brother is everywhere.
When wise men speak, they are ignored and their words float away.
Indeed, the well born man has become an immigrant through lack of recognition and the child of his wife has become the son of his nanny.


Indeed, the land is becoming like desert, the plains are being laid waste and foreigners are in our cities.
Indeed, they arrive unwashed and indeed there are no Americans anywhere.
Indeed, gold and silver and platinum and gems of all kinds decorate the necks of our poor.
Good things are abundant yet our wives say "Oh that we had something to eat."
Indeed, shame has come upon the noblewomen.
Their bodies show the toll of the rags and their hearts sink when greeting one another.
Indeed, new homes are ransacked for scrap metals and there are no new homes coming.
Indeed, the builders of skyscrapers have become foragers and they who once controlled the infernal machine are now lashed to it.
None shall recieve steel from the Allegheny today.
What shall we do for the steel that we use to christen commerce and throw glitter in the eyes of the poor, the vital skeleton that enthrones executives as far away as Dubai?
The wheels have been jammed, credit is no more and through wicked machinations the material for any fruitful endeavor is come to an end.
The courts of our palaces are even despoiled. How often do the foreigners come with their cheap goods and plastic trinkets and poor food?
Indeed the sons of Michigan are embroiled in civil strife due to lack of taxes.
The Ohio valley is lacking in steel and iron ore, the fertile crescent is lacking in grain and there is want everywhere.
The work of a craftsman and the sweat of his brow are to the profit of the palaces.
What good is a Treasury without it's revenues?
Happy indeed is the heart of the executive when the truth is shown to him.
And all the world bows!
That is our fate and that is our happiness.
What can we do about it?
All is ruin.
Indeed laughter is silenced and fear quashes voices all over the land, it is groaning that is heard throughout the land with a low din of complaints.


Indeed every dead person is like a well born man. Those who were Americans are now foreigners and are thrust aside.
Indeed, everyone's hair is falling out and the man of might can be distiguished from the rabble no longer.
Indeed, respite is lacking because of the noise. Noise is not like before; in the year of noise there is no end to it.
Indeed rich and poor say "I wish that I might die." Little children ask "Why did you bring me here?"
The children of the rich are dashed against the walls and the children of the teat are laid out on the high ground.
The tombs vomit ghosts in the land of our fathers and the ivory tower is disparaged throughout the land.
Indeed we watch the video of yesteryear and pine for the innocence and the richness of the land is cast aside in favor of the bright lights.
Indeed the purple mountain's majesty is seen in all it's splendor and the bourguoise put their trust in interstate highways.
What can one do? No common sense exists and men say hell with wikileaks. It is an inside job and will only inspire distrust.
The rich who donated to the police unions are evicted with mace.
Indeed the employed are between unemployment and the ever quickening gears of the machine wailing for productivity.
The convicts run free and the noblewomen sleep in tent cities.
This technocracy is too heavy to bear. Our gadgets too numerous and the sedan no longer can be sustained.
The servants suffer in their lack of servitude and there is no cure.
Noblewomen suffer as maidservants and maidservants are driven into the cold.
Artisans are chained to the wheels and they sing spirituals to Terpsichore.
The young speak freely in disdain and the maidservant mothers are despondent.
Over all this is heard the wail of the old growth forests crying from the hollowing of the land.

1 comment:

  1. I do not wish to be too critical. Yet, my personal interest are of reading the original as close to its context as possible. I can appreciate some modernization as some foreign aspects of such texts may be difficult to grasp without some modernization of phrases. However, the degree of modernizing the language to be more relevant to our times, [Hamilton, America, Dubai, etc.], in my view, overly does it, to the point it significantly reduces the confidence on how this representing the original in the remaining text. It appears that you intended a metaphor of the original, more than a translation of it. Best wishes and respectfully.