… a thought making crooked all that is straight.

Egyptian love poetry I

I received a book of Egyptian poetry today. Unfortunately the texts are in German, so I have translated them into English. Each translation takes us a further step from the original, but I hope the sense is retained.
How wonderful to think that thousands of years ago, men and women were experiencing the same emotions we do today.

The voice of the swallow cried and said:
“Day has come –
when will you leave?”

I won’t, you winged creature,
You are tormenting me!
I found my lover in his chamber,
And my heart was exalted in joy.
We spoke to each other:
“I will never leave you,
We will stay hand in hand,
And when I go out,
I will be with you at every place of beauty.”
He has made me the happiest woman
And my heart is untroubled!


[Harris 500 Papyrus songs]


My God, my lotus flower, I will come with you;
it is a beautiful thing to go down to the river.
My wish is to enter the water
And to bathe before your eyes.

I will show you my beauty
In a shirt of the finest linen,
Soaked in balsam oil,
My hair tied back.

I wish to enter the water with you
and leave with a red fish
resting peacefully in my hand.
I will lay him on my breasts
while I look at your beauty,
oh my husband, my lover –
come, cast your eyes on me!

[No papyrus reference – classified under “Other songs”]

[Not too sure about the whole fish-on-the-breasts thing, but methinks it may be a euphemism (ahem) 🙂 ]

And another …

The key to my heart
is there on the other side!
The river flows between us,
the flood rages at this time of the year. 

A crocodile is watching on the sandbank,
But I step into the water,
Wade through the flood,
My heart is courageous though I am in the river. 

The crocodile was as a mouse in my eyes
and the water was like land to my feet.
Your love makes me strong
as if it is a water spell cast upon me. 

Now I see you before me,

the key to my heart.


[No papyrus reference – classified under “Other songs”]


And just to show that priorities haven’t changed (beer and women!), this short line:

I kiss her and her lips open,
I am drunk from her kisses as from beer.

© starofseshat 2008


6 responses

  1. The Green Witch

    Think you’re right about the fish 😛

    Beautiful poems… you did well with the old translation, Seshat, my dear!

    August 12, 2008 at 2:59 pm

  2. starofseshat

    Yeah, took me a while (as usual) to get it! And the revelation made me blush as red as the fish. Chish and fips anyone? 🙂
    I’ve added a poetry page to the blog – hope to do some more translations and some of my own. Very relaxing.

    August 12, 2008 at 3:09 pm

  3. The Green Witch

    That last one you posted is mine. I want-I want!! a copy of that one.

    August 13, 2008 at 7:44 am

  4. starofseshat

    🙂 made me laugh. Nothing is new on this earth, Horatio!
    Remember I told you about those papyri that recorded work logs and records of workers, including a list of excuses for not turning up to work; one of which was “I had to take my donkey to the vet’s”!! 🙂 Ah, humanity: so much progress, and yet so little…

    August 13, 2008 at 8:18 am

  5. Peace Star of Seshat,

    Allah! This is very beautiful. If you don’t mind, would you kindly translate some more for me – as I can use this in my teaching.

    Thank you for posting it. God bless you always.

    Abdur Rahman

    August 13, 2008 at 9:20 am

  6. starofseshat

    Abdur, you have absolutely made my week with that request!
    I will do some more. My heart is in it at the moment and I’m really enjoying it.
    I will also email you the translations and references to the originals in a Word doc.

    August 13, 2008 at 10:09 am

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