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The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline - Enheduanna

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POET DATA

Enheduanna: The Most Radiant


Priestess and Her Exaltation of
Inanna
nheduanna is the first identified poet in recorded history. Only
a few centuries after cuneiform had fully developed as a
writing system, this woman of extraordinary talent completed
a body of work that influenced Sumerian and Babylonian literature for
the next 500 years.
The archeological record leaves no doubt that Enheduanna was a
historical figure. The literary record is open to interpretation, but
scholars are in general agreement that Enheduanna wrote two long
poems in honor of the goddess Inanna, and very likely another long

Enheduanna

poem that uses a mythical story about Inanna as an extended


metaphor to commemorate a military victory. In addition, Enheduanna

Years:

2285-2250 BCE

is credited with writing most if not all of 42 hymns in honor of various


temples (Meador 70). She did all this about 3 centuries before the

Birthplace:

Sumer

Language(s): Sumerian

Gilgamesh epic, 8 centuries before the earliest Sanskrit texts, and 17

Forms:

Hymns (Odes, in the


modern, not
classical, sense

Subjects:

the Goddess Inanna,


Sumerian temples

Firsts:

first poems in
recorded history,
first to self-identify
as author of work,
first to describe
writing process

Entry By:

Pat Valdata

centuries before Sappho and Confucius.


Her Life
Enheduanna was the only daughter of Sargon, the Akkadian king who
united Akkad and Sumer into one empire around 2300 BCE. This area,
which corresponds to present-day Iraq, included the cities Ur, Uruk,
and Babylon. Although Sargon was Akkadian, and thus of Semitic
descent, it is believed that Enheduanna's mother was Sumerian,
because the poet is so fluent in that language (Meador 45).
Late in his 55-year reign, Sargon appointed Enheduanna as high
priestess of the temple of the moon god Nanna in Ur. This was a
politically astute move designed to "help solidify his control over the
restless and rebellious populations" in the former Sumerian kingdom
(Meador 49). As high priestess, Enheduanna would have had
considerable religious and political influence in Ur and other cities in

Photo Credit: Courtesy of The


Penn Museum
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which she presided over temple rituals. According to Meador,


Enheduanna's title, the "En" of her name [1], connotes not only her
religious role but also her role as a civil administrator, a manager who

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was in charge of the agricultural economy that supported the temple


(52). The 42 temple hymns, each of which praises one of the temples
itself--as opposed to the god or goddess the building is dedicated
to--would have helped to promote civic pride. More importantly, they
would foster a sense of unity in the southern part of the kingdom,
because each hymn is dedicated to the king.
Enheduanna must have been very good at both her religious duties,
which included interpreting dreams, and her civic duties, which

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included making loans from the temple treasury, because she served
as high priestess for many years. She continued in this role after her
father died, and after two brothers who succeeded him died, into the
reign of her nephew, Naram-Sin. Her successful precedent led to the
daughter or sister of the king being appointed as high priestess for the
next five centuries.
Naram-Sin had the same problems with rebellion as his grandfather
Sargon. It is probable that two of these rebellions may have been
what prompted Enheduanna to write the three long poems. Each of
these poems not only deals with the political problems of the time, but
also advances Enheduanna's religious beliefs.
Her Religion
A brief overview of Sumerian religion is necessary in order to
appreciate the long poems of Enheduanna. The three great powers are
An, the sky god; Ki, the earth goddess; and Nammu, the sea goddess.
An and Nammu had several children, including Enki, the god of

LINKS

wisdom. An and Ki had Enlil, the air god, who with Ninlil the air
goddess had Nanna, the moon god. Nanna and Ningal the moon
goddess (worshipped in Ur), had Inanna, the goddess of love, who
was revered in Uruk as the morning and evening star (Wolkstein and
Kramer x-xi). The Akkadian name for Nanna is Suen. He is also
sometimes called Ashimbabbar and a "divine shepherd" (Meador 54).
As Nanna's En-priestess, Enheduanna is the moon's bride and the
personification of Ningal (Meador 55). Nanna is the god to whom she
dedicates temple rites, and the one to whom she prays ceremonially.
It would therefore be reasonable to expect that her poems would be
written in honor of Nanna. However, all three poems not only extol
Inanna instead, they declare Inanna to have supreme power, even
over An.
Enheduanna lived at a time of rising patriarchy. As secular males
acquired more power, religious beliefs had evolved from what was
probably a central female deity in Neolithic times to a central male
deity by the Bronze Age. In Enheduanna's time, this deity was An. But
this was a transitional period; although An was the most powerful of
the gods, there were still many powerful female deities, and
god/goddess pairs were important, like Ninlil/Enlil, and Ningal/Nanna.
Abrahamic monotheism would not begin for another 500 years or so,
and it is possible that especially among women, veneration of a female
deity was a strong tradition passed down from mother to daughter. It
may be, then, that Enheduanna was trying to restore Inanna to the
stature she would have had in ancient times. However, Enheduanna
was a politically savvy princess, so it's possible she was instead (or
also) trying to win over the people of Uruk by exalting their goddess.
She would have done so because Uruk's leader, Lugulanne, was
rebelling against her nephew. A third possibility is that she might
instead have been defying Naram-Sin, who declared himself a god and
confiscated the temple's possessions in Akkad. In that city, Inanna
was worshipped under the Akkadian name of Ishtar (Meador 47-48).
Yet another reason for Enheduanna to venerate Inanna above all
others is the intriguing idea that she considered Inanna her personal
goddess, in much the same way that some Christians today consider

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Jesus their personal savior. In her writing, Enheduanna speaks directly


to the goddess with intimacy instead of ceremony. From a religious
perspective, since Inanna was the daughter of Nanna and Enheduanna
was his bride, the two were effectively in the same family. This
personal relationship informs the poems as Enheduanna draws
parallels between her own circumstances and those of Inanna.

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Her Work
The three long poems in which Enheduanna praises Inanna have been
translated from cuneiform tablets written abo0ut 500 years after her
lifetime. Her work was so popular it was used to teach writing, and
fragmentary texts are probably "copy tablets" of portions of her
poems. We have no tablets from her own time, but we know for sure
that she wrote two of the poems because she identifies herself as the
author. The third one is considered to be hers because of stylistic and
textual similarities. This poem, given the modern title of "Inanna and
Ebih," is called in Sumerian "IN-NIN-ME-HU-A." Meador translates
this as "Lady of blazing dominion"; others translate this as "Goddess
of the fearsome divine powers" (www.etcsl.orient.ox.ac.uk). The poem
describes a battle between Inanna and Mt. Ebih, which refuses to bow
down to her. Inanna appeals to An for help, but he won't help because
he is afraid of the mountain (note how Enheduanna establishes the
weakness of the supposedly great god). Inanna then attacks the
mountain and wins. Hallo and Van Dijk assert that the battle it alludes
to is the successful quashing of a revolt by a mountain-dwelling people
against Naram-Sin (3). This poem, which is the first to portray Inanna
as superior to An, concludes with "praise be to Nisaba/goddess of
writing," an insight into how important writing was to Enheduanna and
possibly to Sumerian culture.
The second and longest of the three poems is IN-NIN-A-GUR-RA:
"Lady of Largest Heart" (Meador), "The Mistress, the Stout-Hearted"
(Sjberg). In this poem, Enheduanna explicitly states all the me--the
essence of divine powers--that belong to Inanna. She endows Inanna
with 40 separate powers, each ending in the phrase "is (or "are")
yours Inanna" in Meador's translation; "'Tis thine" in Hallo and van
Dyke's translation[2]. The me range from kissing a baby to mustering
troops, from handing out mercy to terrorizing enemies. There were
probably even more me attributed to Inanna, because there are many
missing lines. The poem includes an allusion to Inanna's battle with
Mt. Ebih, describes her capacity for rage in vivid detail, and concludes
with an extraordinarily personal plea for the goddess's protection and
mercy:
I plead with you
I say STOP

[Meador's capitalization]

the bitter hating heart and sorrow


my Lady
what day will you have mercy
how long will I cry a moaning prayer
I am yours
why do you slay me

(Meador 134)

In her discussion of this poem, Meador seems troubled by the violent


depiction of the goddess, and wonders what prompted Inanna to write

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it. I think the final of the three poems provides the answer to what
troubled Enheduanna so much that she called upon "fierce Lady
Wildcat" to help her.
Enheduanna's third and most often translated poem is NIN-MER-RA, which means "Queen of all given powers" (Meador), "Queen
of all the me" (Zgoll), or "Lady of all the me's" (Hallo and Van Dijk),
but is typically called "The Exaltation of Inanna." This 153-line poem
was originally reconstructed from 50 separate Babylonian clay tablets
and fragments[3]. It was translated into English in 1968 by William
Hallo and J.J.A. Van Dijk, into German in 1997 by Annette Zgoll
(subsequently translated into English by Tatjana Dorsch), and
translated into English in 2000 by Betty De Shong Meador, working
with Sumerian scholar Daniel Foxvog. A prose translation is available
online from the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature.
In Sumerian, the poem is written in lines of eight to twelve syllables.
We have no idea how Sumerian actually sounded, so we can't
speculate about whether or which syllables might have been accented.
Most of the words end in vowel sounds, and although there seems to
be no rhyme scheme per se, the repetition of vowel sounds would
enhance the music of the poem. For example, the first five lines end in
the sounds a-a-la-ma-ga. Where lines end in a consonant sound, there
is sometimes repetition of the same syllable, as in lines 22-25: gin-tee-gin; sometimes a repeated vowel, as in lines 44-45: dal-nag; and
sometimes what we would today call slant rhyme, as in lines 70-71:
pil-dul.
Repetition of words is another technique used to good effect in the
poem. In the first section of "The Exaltation of Inanna," Enheduanna
begins lines with the word "you" fifteen times. In the second section,
she refers to herself as "I the high priestess," twice as "I
Enheduanna," "I who am I," twice as "I even I," and "I most radiant
priestess of Nanna." She repeats not only phrases but also structures,
with line pairs like "the Queen alone lifts her feelings/the Queen alone
gladdens her heart," "You of the bountiful heart/You of the radiant
heart," "there I raised the ritual basket/there I sang the song of joy,"
and "child of yours//I am a captive/bride of yours//I am a captive."
But Enheduanna does not just make statements about Inanna's power
and her own torment; she uses imagery, metaphor and allusion to
give all of her poetry rich beauty. Inanna becomes a dragon, the south
wind, a bull, a cow, a storm. The poet writes of "your boat of
lamentation" and "the harp of lamentation," of having to "fly/like
swallows swept/from their holes in the wall." Elsewhere in the poem
"all the great gods/fly away to the ruins/flutter around like bats." She
reminds the goddess of her triumph over a previous rebellion with
allusions to her own poem about Mt. Ebih: "you curse its grain/spin
ashes around its main gate/pour blood into its rivers." And when she
describes the consequences of rebellion, she writes, "the woman no
longer speaks sweetly to her husband/no longer tells secrets at
midnight/does not disclose/the soft whispers in her heart."
Her use of figurative language and her narrative structure gives the
full poem and each narrative section in it a strong dramatic arc.
However, the overall structure of the poem, and what constitutes each

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section of the poem, are interpreted differently by various translators.


Hallo and Van Dijk divided the poem into three rhetorical parts, each
further divided into four two- to three-line groups, although this
structure doesn't work so neatly through the entire poem. They admit
to some discomfort about placing some lines where they did, and note
that the clay tablets do not show any such divisions. They base their
arrangement on the content, not the form. They do retain the form of
each line, however, with a caesura that is in evidence on most of the
clay tablets they used to construct their version of the poem (Hallo
and Van Dijk 44). They also note that the sense of the poem comes
from lines grouped in twos or threes. Their arrangement of the poem
on the page reflects this structure. Their translation very closely
follows the transliteration from cuneiform into Sumerian syllables,
which gives their translation an incantatory, albeit sometimes archaic,
quality (Appendix A). Although they are precise translators who
footnote carefully and fill in gaps with care, theirs is a scholarly work
more concerned with accuracy than aesthetics.
Dorsch's translation of Zgoll (Appendix B) does not group the poem's
lines into two- or three-line units and does not divide the poem into
sections. Instead of showing each line with its caesura, she divides the
longer lines into two short lines. Her translation is somewhat easier to
read, but it still has lines of awkward syntax--whether these result
from the Sumerian-into-German step of the translation or the
German-into-English one, I cannot tell. Meador's translation (Appendix
C) restores the poetry for contemporary ears, but in doing so, she
almost always treats the caesura as a line break or ignores it
altogether. She also uses capitalization to highlight what she considers
critical words or phrases. Lines 28-32 provide a good example of each
translator's style:
In the guise of a charging storm
you charge.
With a roaring storm
you roar.
With Thunder
With all the evil winds
Your feet are filled

you continually thunder.


you snort.
with restlessness.

(Hallo and van Dyke 19)


Like an invasive storm you barge in.
With the howling storm you howl.
With Iskur you thunder.
With raging thunderstorms you do exhaust,
While your own foot has never yet tired.
(Zgoll, tr. by Dorsch)
a gouging storm bull, you gouge
a rumbling storm roar, you thunder
you bellow with the storm god
you moan with evil winds
your feet never weary
(Meador 172)
Note that only Hallo and van Dyke show the caesura in this passage.
All three versions have their music and convey the sense of Inanna's
power, but to my ears, Meador's translation is the most successful at

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conveying that power with fluency. She repeats only the words
"gouging/gouge." She possibly takes the liberty of adding the word
"bull" to the first line of the passage, but since Inanna is described
elsewhere as a bull, it is a valid metaphor[4] and a more vivid way to
convey the storm than Hallo and van Dyke's "charging"--which does
suggest an animal--or Zgoll and Dorsch's "invasive." The cadence of
the five lines is also much smoother in Meador's version.
As Meador handles it, the poem divides into 5 major sections with a
three-line closing. The other two poems also follow a similar
five-section structure. The first section of "The Exaltation of Inanna,"
like the first section of "Lady of Largest Heart," begins with a tribute to
Inanna and her powers (see Meador 171-180). She is described as
"cherished in heaven and earth," a significant assertion that is the first
time a god is described as embodying both celestial and terrestrial
characteristics (Hallo and Van Dijk 60). She is addressed as "you
mountain smasher," "you Enlil's dear," "you dreaded southwind."
Enheduanna describes the chaos that results when people turn away
from Inanna (and by implication, from Naram-Sin), alluding as she did
in "Lady of Largest Heart" to Inanna's victory over Mt. Ebih.
En-priestess refers to goddess as "my divine ecstatic wild cow"--a
reference to the moon god's appearance each month when the new
moon seems to have horns--and as "eldest daughter of Suen/Queen
greater than An?great Queen of queens/babe of a holy womb/greater
than the mother who bore you." This tribute section closes with the
line "I will sing of your cosmic powers."
The second section tells Enheduanna's own story. She identifies
herself at the beginning of the section: "I the high priestess/I
Enheduanna." She tells how she prayed in the temple but was
removed from it by Lugulanne, the king of Uruk who led the rebellion
against Naram-Sin. Not only was she removed from her office, she
was thrown out of the temple itself and especially from the gipar, the
sacred room in the heart of the temple where the priestesses lived and
worked. She is taken from Ur and exiled across the desert to the
eastern mountains. I suspect she wrote "Lady of Largest Heart" during
this period of exile. The anguish and rage she expresses in that poem
would be natural responses to exile and to the rebellion against her
nephew.
Expulsion and exile are not the only outrages that cause Enheduanna
to beg the goddess for help; she is also physically threatened by
Lugulanne: "He has wiped his spit-soaked hand/on my honey sweet
mouth." Lugulanne threatens her with a ritual dagger, with which
some priests were made eunuchs, and tells her "it becomes you." The
dagger is symbolic in two ways: as an instrument of castration it
mocks her loss of power and prestige; and as a phallic symbol it may
also be a symbol of rape. That Lugulanne sexually assaulted her is
probable (Meador 182, Hallo and van Dijk 57). Such an assault would
incorporate the additional sins of adultery and incest, since Lugulanne
represented An and Enheduanna represented Ningal, effectively
making them in-laws. But Enheduanna stands up to him, and even
makes a legal case against him, noting that he has repeatedly "not
settled my claim" and instead "throws a hateful verdict/in my face."

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After describing Lugulanne's offenses and their consequences in great


detail, the poem's third section is a proclamation of Inanna's powers.
These 11 lines convey all of Enheduanna's rage as she diverts her
prayers from Nanna, who has turned a deaf ear, to her personal
goddess, Inanna:
That you are as exalted as An
PROCLAIM!
That you are as wide as earth
PROCLAIM!
That you crush rebellious lands
PROCLAIM!
That you shriek over the land
PROCLAIM!
That you smash heads
PROCLAIM!
That you gorge on corpses like a dog
PROCLAIM!
That your glance flames with rage
PROCLAIM!
That you throw your glance around
PROCLAIM!
That your eyes flash like jewels
PROCLAIM!
That you balk and defy
PROCLAIM!
That you stand victorious
PROCLAIM!
(Meador 178-179)
The short fourth section describes her pious preparations for ritual, a
reminder to Inanna of all the times Enheduanna has prayed to her.
She then provides the first record of the writing process in the lines
"suffering bitter pangs/I gave birth to this exaltation/for you my
Queen," which is also the first instance of this uniquely female
metaphor.
In the final section of the poem, Enheduanna writes with joy that
Inanna has received her prayer and acted on it. She concludes with
praise to the goddess who answered her prayers when neither An nor
Nanna responded. In historical fact, Lugulanne's rebellion was
defeated and Enheduanna was restored to her position as En-priestess
of the temple of Nanna at Ur.
Conclusion
Writing as she did during the rise of agrarian civilization, with its
emphasis on accumulating territory and wealth, on warfare, and on
patriarchy, Enheduanna offers a first-person perspective of one of the
last times women in Western society held religious and civil power. In

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her elevation of Inanna above all other deities, she takes religious
belief a giant step closer to monotheism. By endowing Inanna with
powers uniting heaven and earth, she establishes characteristics of
female deities that will continue through "Assyrian Ishtar, the Hebrew
Shekinah, and the Gnostic Sophia" (Meador 189) to the Catholic belief
in Mary's assumption into heaven. Was she restoring this goddess to
the position of the Great Mother? Was she supporting her family's
conquest? Or was she defying her own nephew, the first male ruler to
declare himself a god?
The importance of Enheduanna's writing in Western literature cannot
be overstated. She was the first writer to identify herself as the author
of a work and the first to describe the writing process. Her use of the
first person and her dialogue with the goddess were innovative and
daring. Her work is foundational; its influence in ancient times was
comparable to that of Shakespeare today. There is much more in her
writing than can be discussed in a short essay like this one.
Thankfully, contemporary scholars like Janet Roberts and Betty De
Shong Meador are revisiting her body of work and providing new
insights into the writing of this "most radiant" priestess, princess, and
poet.
Works Cited
Binkley, Roberta. Context: Who Was Enheduanna? Arizona State
University faculty web pages. Retrieved March 29, 2009, from:
http://www,public.asu.edu/~rbinkle/enheduanna.htm
Hallo, William W. and J.J.A. van Dijk. The Exaltation of Inanna. New
Haven: Yale UP, 1968.
Meador, Betty De Shong. Inanna, Lady of Largest Heart: Poems of the
Sumerian High Priestess Enheduanna. Austin: University of Texas
Press, 2000.
Sjberg, ke W. "in-nin--gur-ra: A Hymn to the Goddess Inanna by
the en-Priestess Enheduanna." Zeitschrift fur Asyriologie 65
(1975): 161-253.
The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature. The Exaltation of
Inana (Inana B): Translation. Retrieved March 29, 2009, from:
http://www.etcsl.orient.ox.ac.uk/section 4/tr4072.htm
Wolkstein, Diane, and Samuel Noah Kramer. Inanna, Queen of Heaven
and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer. New York: Harper
& Row, 1983.
Zgoll, Annette. NIN-ME-SARA: Lady of Countless Cosmic Powers. Tr.
Tatjana Dorsch, from Der Rechtsfall der En-hedu-Ana im Lied
nin-me-r-ra. Mnster: Ugarit-Verlag, 1997. Retrieved March 29,
2009, from: http://www.angelfire.com/mi/enheduanna
/Ninmesara.html
Appendix A.
Hallo and van Dyke excerpt from pp. 31 and 33 (with line numbers):
"Be it known"

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122 That one has not recited as a that one has recited as a "\'Tis
"Known! Be it known!" of Nanna, Thine!":
123 "That you are lofty as Heaven (An)-- be it known!
124 That you are broad as the earth-- be it known!
125 That you devastate the rebellious be it known!
land-125a That you roar at the land-- be it known!
126 That you smite the heads-- be it known!
127 That you devour cadavers like a dog-- be it known!
128 That your glance is terrible-- be it known!
129 That you lift your terrible glance-- be it known!
130 That your glance is flashing-- be it known!
131 That you are ill-disposed toward the... -- be it known!
132 That you attain victory-- be it known!"
133 That one has not recited (this) of that one has recited it as a " 'Tis
Thine!"-Nanna,
134 (That,) oh my lady, has made you great, you alone are exalted!
135 Oh my lady beloved of An, I have verily recounted your fury!
Appendix B.
Dorsch/Zgoll excerpt from www.angelfire.com (with line numbers):
"Shall be known"
122. It shall be known, it shall be known:
Nanna has proclaimed no decree,
"It is yours" is what he has said!
123. That you are as high as heaven, shall be known!
124. That you are as wide as the earth, shall be known!
125. That you anhilate [sic] rebelling territiories [sic], shall be known!
[footnote removed]
125a. That you roar against the enemy lands, shall be known!
126. That you crush the leaders, shall be known!
127. That you devour corpses like a predator, shall be known!
128. That your glance is terrible, shall be known!
129. That you raise your terrible glance, shall be known!
130. That your glance is sparkling, shall be known!
131. That you are unshakable and unyielding, shall be known!
132. That you always stand triumphant, shall be known!
133. That Nanna has not proclaimed (the decree),
that he has said, "It is yours",

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134. My Queen- it has made you greater,


you have become the greatest!
135. My Queen, beloved of An,
I will announce all of your wrath!
Appendix C.
Complete text, reprinted [without footnotes] with kind permission of
Betty De Shong Meador:
The Exaltation of Inanna
NIN-ME-R-RA
by The Priestess Enheduanna
Queen of all given powers
unveiled clear light
unfailing woman wearing brilliance
cherished in heaven and earth
chosen, sanctified in heaven
You
grand in your adornments
crowned with your beloved goodness
rightfully you are High Priestess
your hands seize the seven fixed powers
my queen of fundamental forces
guardian of essential cosmic sources
you lift up the elements
bind them to your hands
gather in powers
press them to your breast
vicious dragon you spew
venom poisons the land
like the storm god you howl
grain wilts on the ground
swollen flood rushing down the mountain
YOU ARE INANNA
SUPREME IN HEAVEN AND EARTH
mounted on a beast
You Lady ride out
shower the land with flames of fire
your fated word charged
with An's command
who can fathom your depths
you of the great rites
You

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The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline - Enheduanna

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mountain smasher
give the storm wings
You
Enlil's dear
fling storms over the land
you stand at An's command
my Lady
the shriek of your voice
shatters foreign lands
You
dreaded southwind
hurl a hot storm
people stumble
dazed and silent
face the terror of holy power
chanting a dirge
they meet you at the crossroads
of the house of sighs
at the front of battle
all is smashed before you
the obsidian blade ravages
my Lady
by your own arm's power
a gouging storm-bull, you gouge
a rumbling storm roar, you thunder
you bellow with the storm god
you moan with evil winds
your feet never weary
you sing of sorrow
play the harp of lamentation
before you my Queen
the Annuna
all the great gods
fly away to the ruins
flutter around like bats
wither at your smoldering glance
cower beneath your scowl
your angry heart
who can soothe it
cooling your cruel heart is
too forbidding
the Queen alone lifts her feelings
the Queen alone gladdens her heart
She will not quiet her rage
O great daughter of Suen

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The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline - Enheduanna

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Queen
greater than the mountain
who dares raise nose-pressed-to-the-ground
when the mountain quits nose-rubbing
you curse its grain
spin ashes around its main gate
pour blood into its rivers
its people cannot drink
it hands over captives
armies disband
strong young men
come before you willingly
a wind storm breaks up dancing in the city
drives the prime youth before you
rope-tied captives
to the city which does not profess
"the land is yours"
which does not say
"it is your father's"
you speak one holy word
turn that city from your path
you abandon its sacred stall
the woman no longer speaks sweetly to her husband
no longer tells secrets at midnight
does not disclose
the soft whispers in her heart
ecstatic wild cow
eldest daughter of Suen
Queen greater than An
who dares withhold adulation
mistress of the scheme of order
great Queen of queens
babe of a holy womb
greater than mother who bore you
You all knowing
You wise vision
Lady of all lands
life-giver for the many
faithful Goddess
worthy of powers
to sing your praise is exalted
You of the bountiful heart
You of the radiant heart
I will sing of your cosmic powers
***
truly for your gain
you drew me toward

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The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline - Enheduanna

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my holy quarters
I
the High Priestess
I
Enheduanna
there I raised the ritual basket
there I sang the shout of joy
but that man cast me among the dead
I am not allowed in my rooms
gloom falls on the day
light turns leaden
shadows close in
dreaded southstorm cloaks the sun
he wipes his spit-soaked hand
on my honey sweet mouth
my beautiful image
fades under dust
what is happening to my fate
O Suen
what is this with Lugalanne
speak to An
he will free me
tell him "Now"
he will release me
the Woman will dash his fate
that Lugalanne
the mountains the biggest floods
lie at Her feet
the Woman is as great as he
she will break the city from him
(may her heart grow soft for me)
stand there
I
Enheduanna Jewel of An
let me say a prayer to you
(flow tears
refreshing drink for Inanna)
I say to Her
silim
be well
I say
I no longer soothe Ashimbabbar
all the cleansing rites of Holy An

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The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline - Enheduanna

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that man changed them


he robbed An of his temple
he does not fear Big Man An
the potent vigor of the place
does not fill him
he spoiled its allure
truly he destroyed it
haunt him
with the ghost
of her you set up as your partner
O my divine ecstatic wild cow
drive this man out
hunt him down
catch him
I
who am I
in the place which holds up
life's key elements
may An desert those rebels
who hate your Nanna
may An wreck that city
may Enlil curse its fate
may the mother not comfort
her crying child
Queen
creator of heart-soothing
that man junked
your boat of lamentation
on an alien sea
I am dying
that I must sing
this sacred song
I
even I
Nanna ignores my straits
am I to be ruined by treachery
I
even I
Ashimbabbar
neglects my case
whether he neglects me
or not
what does it matter
that man threw me out of the temple
I who served triumphant

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The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline - Enheduanna

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he made me fly
like swallows swept
from their holes in the wall
he eats away at my life
I wander through thorny brush in the mountains
he robbed me
of the true crown
of the High Priestess
he gave me
the ritual dagger of mutilation
he said
"it becomes you"
precious Queen
loved by An
rekindle for me
your holy heart
beloved wife of the sky dragon
Ushumgalanna
Great Lady
who spans the tree of heaven
trunk to crown
all the Annuna
lash yoke over neck for you
You
born a minor queen
how great you have become
greater than the Anunna
greater than the Great Gods
the Anunna
press lips to the ground for you
that man has not settled my claim
again and again
he throws a hateful verdict
in my face
I no longer lift my hands
from the pure sacred bed
I no longer unravel
Ningal's gifts of dreams
to anyone
I
most radiant priestess of Nanna
may you cool your heart for me
my Queen
beloved of An

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The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline - Enheduanna

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PROCLAIM!
PROCLAIM!
I shall not
pay tribute to Nanna
it is of YOU
I PROCLAIM
that you are exalted as An
PROCLAIM!
that you are wide as earth
PROCLAIM!
that you crush rebellious lands
PROCLAIM!
that you shriek over the land
PROCLAIM!
that you smash heads
PROCLAIM!
that you gorge on corpses like a dog
PROCLAIM!
that your glance flames with rage
PROCLAIM!
that you throw your glance around
PROCLAIM!
that your eyes flash like jewels
PROCLAIM!
that you balk and defy
PROCLAIM!
that you stand victorious
PROCLAIM!
I have not said this of Nanna
I have said it of YOU
my phrases glorify YOU
who alone are exalted
my Queen
beloved of An
I have spoken
of your tempestuous fury
***
I have heaped up coals in the brazier
I have washed in the sacred basin

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The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline - Enheduanna

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I have readied your room


in the tavern
(may your heart be cooled for me)
suffering bitter pangs
I gave birth to this exaltation
for you my Queen
what I told you in the dark of night
may the singer recount at noon
child of yours

I am a captive

bride of yours
I am a captive
it is for my sake your anger fumes
your heart finds no relief
***
the eminent Queen
guardian of the throne room
receives her prayer
the holy heart
of Inanna
returns to her
the day is favorable
she dresses lavishly
in woman's allure
she glows with beauty's shine
like the light of the rising moon
Nanna lifts her
into seemly view
at the sound of Ningal's prayer
the gate posts open
Hail
Be Well
***
this poem
spoken for the sacred Woman
is exalted
praise the mountain destroyer
praise Her who
(together with An)
received the unchanging powers
praise my lady wrapped in beauty
PRAISE BE TO INANNA
Notes
[1] Translated as "Ornament of An"(Zgoll), "Ornament of Heaven"
(Binkley), or "Jewel of Heaven" (Meador). "En" means "highpriestess."

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The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline - Enheduanna

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[2] In other Sumerian literature, Inanna gets Enki drunk on beer to


trick him into giving her the me, which she then brings to the
people of Uruk. Enheduanna's use of "are yours/'tis thine"
emphasize that the me legitimately belong to Inanna.
[3] Binkley notes that another 59 texts have been identified since the
Hallo and van Dijk translation.
[4] Inanna is often given attributes that are traditionally male. Gender
issues are a topic that Meador discusses extensively in her analysis
of these works.

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