What follows could be a rough translation of a clay tablet found near modern Yeman, or it could be the product of some rube’s boredom. You decide on the authenticity of this unusual document, which mourns the dangers of laziness, and offers a solution which modern audiences will likely find familiar.
1 The words of The Scribe, son of Levi, Shepherd of The Hills.
“Slumbering, slumbering!” says the scribe, “Slumbering, slumbering, how the world slumbers through all the night watches!
What securities do the people gain by a sleeping guard,
Who sees dreams and not reality?
The sun sets and the eyes fade and lack of attack is false security,
Then those who feel secure imbibe their precious ales,
And bring about a waking sleep for cheerful heart.
Yet the rival troops are gathering in the dark,
And the thieves lurk out of sight knowing the guards will rest.
The slumbering guards will groan in their sleep,
Only briefly, before they are over come.
And the celebrants will perish with a sleep-joy cheer,
Thinking their destruction a part of the feast!
Slumbering, slumbering! Is there no hope for the slumbering?
2 Slumbering, slumbering!” Says the Scribe, “Slumbering, Slumbering, how the world slumbers though the day progresses!
What comfort can a wife provide,
Who sleeps and dreams of idly all day?
The sun rises and her eyes stay dull and her children run unchecked,
Then her house turns apathetic, sinking into a bog of drudgery,
And take to calling idleness a vocation.
Yet the rivals are gathering in the fields, tilling ground for grain,
And the scholars scoff at the dull, neglected youth.
The dreaming wives will stumble in the light,
Barely blinking, before they are overcome.
And the children will perish with a dull-joy cheer,
Thinking their destruction a children’s game!
Slumbering, Slumbering! Can there be hope for the slumbering?
3″Slumbering, slumbering!” Says the Scribe, “Slumbering, Slumbering, how the world slumbers though the sun is setting!
What can a man of craft or art design who slumbers at the table,
Who sleeps though there is light for labor?
The sun sets and his eyes are closed and his tools lay untouched,
Then his canvas stays blank, his foundations unleveled,
And labels his laziness craft
Yet the rival men of art are calling for deeper, stronger arts,
And the painters wait to take the sleeping artist’s easel
The snoozing craftsman’s muse will fade there with the sun,
Ignored, before they are overcome.
And the creations will perish as unimagined things,
While the creators call their nothings things.
Slumbering, slumbering! Is there no hope for the slumbering?”
4 “Slumbering, slumbering!” Says the Scribe, “Slumbering, Slumbering, how can the world awake from slumbering?
For the guards, and wives, and husbands slumber,
And the towns, and children, and crafts all slumber,
The sun and moon and stars all slumber,
And eyes and heads and hands all slumber,
Yet there is hope for those who slumber,
A way to stir the mind and heart and head and hands,
A gift of G-d from time of old, a modest bean both dark and bold,
A metaphor for human soul, and the conclusion of the matter:
This bean is taken from a modest bush,
Then purified by fire for a finer taste,
Then ground into a powder for service to the LORD,
Immersed in water boiled pure
Then taken as a slumber cure.
So husbands take this rich brown brew,
To keep a wakeful hand,
And keep your house well stocked of it,
And brew it for you wives.
And wives will keep a watchful eye, and guide her children well,
And children will be taught to watch when they are called to guard.