Nothing of the son occurred, of course,
not the evil dreams, not the dementia,
neither bovine diet nor bestial appearance,
hair like feathers, nails like claws of birds;
it hadn't happened that way at all, as any
number of high officials with impeccable credentials
would surely have testified, had they been asked.
When the great King Nabu-Protects-the-Dynasty—
who had driven Pharaoh from the land,
who impressed the might of Marduk upon all nations,
who restored the ziggurats, constructed city walls,
and built the Pensile Paradise for no more
than a woman's delectation—
lay down to end his days,
favored concubines bathed the fevered brow,
musicians played quietly at a distance, and priests
intoned the rituals in reverential whispers.
Costly medicine was brought in from afar,
astronomagi were commanded to hazard an opinion,
and the king—might he live forever!—expired
in the complete possession of majesty, attended
by comely eunuchs and wrapped in rich tradition;
and if it is true that bribed bodyguards
and a perfumed pillow assisted to that end,
that, too, was ancient practice and not undignified,
nothing like the lies contemptible slaves would spread.