poetry Monday,  writing

Poetry Monday: Love as Old as Time

4,000 year old love poem. Photo credit: via


A love that is as old as time, the above tablet is a 4,000 year old love poem. Some may remember a while back in 2006 this poem got unearthed from the bowels of the Istanbul Museum of the Ancient Orient and went on display as a centerpiece for their Valentine’s Day celebration. And what a centerpiece.

The above tablet translates to:

Poem recited by the annual brides of King Shu-Sin 
Translated by Samuel Noah Kramer (via)

    Bridegroom, dear to my heart,
    Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet,
    Lion, dear to my heart,
    Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet.

    You have captivated me, let me stand tremblingly before you.
    Bridegroom, I would be taken by you to the bedchamber,
    You have captivated me, let me stand tremblingly before you.
    Lion, I would be taken by you to the bedchamber.

    Bridegroom, let me caress you,
    My precious caress is more savory than honey,
    In the bedchamber, honey-filled,
    Let me enjoy your goodly beauty,
    Lion, let me caress you,
    My precious caress is more savory than honey.

    Bridegroom, you have taken your pleasure of me,
    Tell my mother, she will give you delicacies,
    My father, he will give you gifts.

    Your spirit, I know where to cheer your spirit,
    Bridegroom, sleep in our house until dawn,
    Your heart, I know where to gladden your heart,
    Lion, sleep in our house until dawn.

    You, because you love me,
    Give me pray of your caresses,
    My lord god, my lord protector,
    My Shu-Sin, who gladdens Enlil’s heart,
    Give my pray of your caresses.

    Your place goodly as honey, pray lay (your) hand on it,
    Bring (your) hand over like a gishban-garment,
    Cup (your) hand over it like a gishban-sikin-garment.

Supposedly every year the King would ensure his region’s fertility by making love to the Goddess Inanna’s (the goddess of fertility and sexual love) priestesses. There was as one article I read put it, “a Mardi Gras sort of festival” would take place a week before to celebrate this goddess. At the culmination of the ceremonies the King would make love the priestess after plying her with gifts and affection and she, reading him the poem.

As one article I read said:

“The passion, scholars say, was ritual–part of a Mesopotamian festival of fertility and power called Sacred Marriage. Every new year (for the Sumerians, around the spring equinox), the Sumerian king “married” the Sumerian goddess of love and war, Inanna (Babylonian Ishtar), to renew the land’s fertility and affirm his own potency. In Summer, or several days, the king’s people got the Sumerian equivalent of Mardi Gras. At the festival’s peak, the king got Inanna’s high priestess, playing the part of Inanna. Woed by his offerings, the priestess would accept the king into her bed, with a poem addressed to him. This one, addressed to the Sumerian king Shu-Sin, is the oldest love poem we know…” via

I think the beauty of this poem is that it shows as humans, love and passion span centuries and millenia. It is the one beautiful constant in our nature.  :0)


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