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Ancient History Sourcebook:
Egyptian Love Poetry, c. 2000 - 1100 BCE


I. Your love has penetrated all within me
Like honey plunged into water,
Like an odor which penetrates spices,
As when one mixes juice in... ......

Nevertheless you run to seek your sister,
Like the steed upon the battlefield,
As the warrior rolls along on the spokes of his wheels.

For heaven makes your love
Like the advance of flames in straw,
And its longing like the downward swoop of a hawk.

II. Disturbed is the condition of my pool.
The mouth of my sister is a rosebud.
Her breast is a perfume.
Her arm is a............bough
Which offers a delusive seat.
Her forehead is a snare of meryu-wood.

I am a wild goose, a hunted one,
My gaze is at your hair,
At a bait under the trap
That is to catch me.

III. Is my heart not softened by your love-longing for me?
My dogfoot-(fruit) which excites your passions
Not will I allow it
To depart from me.

Although cudgeled even to the "Guard of the overflow,"
To Syria, with shebod-rods and clubs,
To Kush, with palm-rods,
To the highlands, with switches
To the lowlands, with twigs,

Never will I listen to their counsel
To abandon longing.

IV. The voice of the wild goose cries,
Where she has seized their bait,
But your love holds me back,
I am unable to liberate her.

I must, then, take home my net!
What shall I say to my mother,
To whom formerly I came each day
Loaded down with fowls?

I shall not set the snares today
For your love has caught me.

V. The wild goose flies up and soars,
She sinks down upon the net.

The birds cry in flocks,
But I hasten homeward,
Since I care for your love alone.

My heart yearns for your breast,
I cannot sunder myself from your attractions.

VI. Thou beautiful one! My heart's desire is
To procure for you your food as your husband,
My arm resting upon your arm.

You have changed me by your love.
Thus say I in my heart,
In my soul, at my prayers:
"I lack my commander tonight,
I am as one dwelling in a tomb."

Be you but in health and strength,
Then the nearness of your countenance
Sheds delight, by reason of your well-being,
Over a heart, which seeks you with longing.

VII. The voice of the dove calls,
It says: "The earth is bright."
What have I to do outside?
Stop, thou birdling! You chide me!

I have found my brother in his bed,
My heart is glad beyond all measure.
We each say:
"I will not tear myself away."

My hand is in his hand.
I wander together with him
To every beautiful place.
He makes me the first of maidens,
Nor does he grieve my heart.

VIII. Sa'am plants are in it,
In the presence of which one feels oneself uplifted!

I am your darling sister,
I am to you like a bit of land,
With each shrub of grateful fragrance.

Lovely is the water-conduit in it,
Which your hand has dug,
While the north wind cooled us.
A beautiful place to wander,

Your hand in my hand,
My soul inspired
My heart in bliss,
Because we go together.

New wine it is, to hear your voice;
I live for hearing it.
To see you with each look,
Is better than eating and drinking.

IX. Ta-'a-ti-plants are in it!
I take your garlands away,
When you come home drunk,
And when you are lying in your bed

When I touch your feet,
And children are in your..........
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I rise up rejoicing in the morning
Your nearness means to me health and strength.


Source:

From: George A. Barton, Archaeology and The Bible, 3rd Ed., (Philadelphia: American Sunday School, 1920), pp. 413-416.


This text is part of the Internet Ancient History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall, Janaury 1999
halsall@murray.fordham.edu