Friday, January 18, 2008

Voices in Wartime: First War Resistance Poem, "Lament to the Spirit of War"

Though Thersites in The Iliad is probably the first Western war protestor, Enheduanna, a Sumerian princess, might rank as the oldest in history. This is from Voices in Wartime:

Enheduanna was an ancient Sumerian priestess, from a part of the world now known as Iraq. Her father, Sargon, is credited with uniting the Central and Southern regions of Mesopotamia into a highly prosperous empire. Sargon is often referred to as the world’s first emperor, reigning from 2334-2279 BCE. Enheduanna was appointed priestess of the temple at Ur. In this position she consolidated the worship of a myriad of local goddesses into the worship of Inanna, a Sumerian goddess. Enheduanna is believed to be the world’s oldest writer. She wrote what may be the first recorded poem in response to war, in approximately 2300 BCE.

“Lament to the Spirit of War”

You hack everything down in battle....
God of War, with your fierce wings
you slice away the land and charge
disguised as a raging storm,
growl as a roaring hurricane,
yell like a tempest yells,
thunder, rage, roar, and drum,
expel evil winds!
Your feet are filled with anxiety!

On your lyre of moans
I hear your loud dirge scream.
Like a fiery monster you fill the land with poison.
As thunder you growl over the earth,
trees and bushes collapse before you.

You are blood rushing down a mountain,
Spirit of hate, greed and anger,
dominator of heaven and earth!
Your fire wafts over our land,
riding on a beast,
with indomitable commands,
you decide all fate.
You triumph over all our rites.
Who can explain why you go on so?

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