Below are several poems written by the first known poet, Enheduanna, who was the daughter of Sargon I of Akkad and a high-priestess of the Goddess of Love and War, Inanna.

There are two sources for the poems that follow. To read any of the poems online, visit:    OR

Source: Pritchard, James D. (1975): The Ancient Near East, Volume II

Gateways to Babylon
Ancient Texts


Queen of all the ME, Radiant Light,
Life-giving Woman, beloved of An (and) Urash,
Hierodule of An, much bejeweled,
Who loves the life-giving tiara, fit for High Priestesshood,
Who grasps in (her) hand, the seven ME,
My Queen, you who are the Guardian of All the Great ME,
You have lifted the ME, have tied the ME to Your hands,
Have gathered the ME, pressed the ME to Your breast.
You have filled the land with venom, like a dragon.
Vegetation ceases, when You thunder like Ishkur,
You who bring down the Flood from the mountain,
Supreme One, who are the Inanna of Heaven (and) Earth,
Who rain flaming fire over the land,
Who have been given the me by An,
Queen Who Rides the Beasts,
Who at the holy command of An, utters the (divine) words,
Who can fathom Your great rites!
Destroyer of the Foreign Lands,
You have given wings to the storm,
Beloved of Enlil - You made it (the storm) blow over the land,
You carried out the instructions of An.
My Queen,
the foreign lands cower at Your cry,
In dread (and) fear of the South Wind, mankind
Brought You their anguished clamor,
Took before You their anguished outcry
Opened before You wailing and weeping,
Brought before You the "great" lamentations in the city streets.
In the van of battle, everything was struck down before You,
My Queen,
You are all devouring in Your power,
You kept on attacking like an attacking storm,
Kept on blowing (louder) than the howling storm,
Kept on thundering (louder) than Ishkur,
Kept on moaning (louder) than the evil winds,
Your feet grew not weary,
You caused wailing to be uttered on the "lyre of lament."
My Queen,
[all] the Anunna, the great gods,
Fled before You like fluttering bats,
Could not stand before Your awesome face,
Could not approach Your awesome forehead. Who can soothe Your angry heart!
Your baleful heart is beyond soothing!
Queen, Happy of "Liver," Joyful of Heart,
(But) whose anger cannot be soothed, daughter of Sin,
Queen, Paramount in the Land,
Who has (ever) paid You (enough) homage!
The mountain who kept from paying homage to You -
vegetation became "tabu" for it,
You burnt down its great gates,
Its rivers ran with blood because of You,
its people had nothing to drink,
Its troops were led off willingly (into captivity) before You,
Its forces disbanded themselves willingly before You,
Its strong men paraded willingly before You,
The amusement places of its cities were filled with turbulence,
Its adult males were driven off as captives before You.
Against the city that said not "Yours is the land,'
That said not "It belongs to the father who begot you,"
You promised Your Holy Word, turned away from it,
Kept Your distance from its womb,
Its woman spoke not of love with her husband,
In the deep night she whispered not (tenderly) with him,
Revealed not to him the "Holiness" of Her heart.
Rampant Wild Cow, elder daughter of Sin,
Queen, greater than An,
who has (ever) paid You (enough) homage!
You who in accordance with the life giving me,
Great Queen of Queens,
Have become greater than Your mother who gave birth to you,
(as soon as) you came forth from the Holy Womb,
Knowing, Wise, Queen of All the Lands,
Who multiplies (all) living creatures (and) peoples --
I have uttered Your Holy song.
Life-Giving Goddess, fit for the ME,
whose acclamation is exalted,
Merciful, Live-Giving Woman, Radiant of Heart,
I have uttered it before You in accordance with the ME.
I have entered before You in my holy gipar,
I the En, Enheduanna,
Carrying the masab-basket, I uttered a joyous chant,
(But now) I no longer dwell in the goodly place You established.
Came the day, the sun scorched me
Came the shade (of night), the South Wind overwhelmed me,
My honey-sweet voice has become strident,
Whatever gave me pleasure has turned into dust. Oh Sin, King of Heaven, my (bitter) fate,
To An declare, An will deliver me,
Pray declare it to An, he will deliver me.
The kingship of heaven has been seized by the woman (Inanna),
At whose feet lies the flood-land.
That woman (Inanna) so exalted,
who has made me tremble together the city (Ur),
Stay Her, let Her heart be soothed by me.
I, Enheduanna will offer supplications to Her,
My tears, like sweet drinks.
Will I proffer to the Holy Inanna, I will greet Her in peace,
Let not Ashimbabbar (Sin) be troubled.
She (Inanna) has changed altogether the rites of Holy An,
Has seized the Eanna from An,
Feared not the great An,
That house (the Eanna) whose charm was irresistible,
whose allure was unending,
That house She has turned over to destruction,
Her . . . that She brought there has . . .
My Wild Cow (Inanna) assaults there its men, makes them captive.
I, what am I among the living creatures!
May An give over (to punishment)
the rebellious lands that hate your (Inanna's) Nanna,
May An split its cities asunder,
May Enlil curse it,
May not its tear-destined child be soothed by her mother,
Oh, Queen who established lamentations,
Your "boat of lamentations," has landed in an inimical land,
There will I die, while singing the holy song.
As for me, my Nanna watched not over me,
I have been attacked most cruelly.
Ashimbabbar has not spoken my verdict.
But what matter, whether he spoke it or not!
I, accustomed to triumph, have been driven forth from (my) house,
Was forced to flee like the cote like a swallow, my life is devoured,
Was made to walk among the mountain thorns,
The life-giving tiara of En-ship was taken from me,
Eunuchs were assigned to me -
"These are becoming to you," it was told me.
Dearest Queen, Beloved of An,
Let your Holy heart, the Noble, return to me,
Beloved wife of Ushumgalanna (Dumuzi),
Great Queen of the Horizon and the Zenith,
The Anunna have prostrated themselves before you.
Although at birth You were the younger sister,
How much greater You have become than the Anunna,
the Great Gods!
The Anunna kiss the ground before You.
It is not my verdict that has been completed,
it is a strange verdict that has been turned into my verdict,
The fruitful bed has been abolished,
(So that) I have not interpreted to man the commands of Ningal.
For me, the Radiant En of Nanna,
May your heart be soothed, You who are the Queen beloved of An.
"You are known, You are known" -
it is not of Nanna that I have recited it,
it is of You that I have recited it.
You are known by Your heaven-like height,
You are known by Your earth-like breadth,
You are known by Your destruction of rebel-lands,
You are known by Your massacring (their people),
You are known by Your devouring (their) dead like a dog,
You are known by Your fierce countenance.
You are known by the raising of Your fierce countenance,
You are known by Your flashing eyes.
You are known by Your contentiousness (and) disobedience,
You are known by Your many triumphs" --
It is not of Nanna that I have recited it,
it is of You that I have recited it.
My Queen, I have extolled You,
who alone are exalted,
Queen Beloved of An, I have erected your daises,
Have heaped up the coals, have conducted the rites,
Have set up the nuptial chamber for You,
may Your heart be soothed for me,
Enough, more than enough innovations,
Great Queen, have I made for You.
What I have recited to You in the deep night,
The gala-singer will repeat for You in midday.
It is because of Your captive spouse, your captive son,
That Your wrath is so great, Your heart so unappeased.
The foremost Queen, the prop of the assembly,
Accepted Her prayer.
The heart of Inanna was restored,
The day was favorable for Her,
She was clothed with beauty, was filled with joyous allure,
How she carried (her) beauty -- like the rising moonlight!
Nanna who came forth in wonder true,
(and) her Ningal, proffered prayers to Her,
Greeted her at the doorsill (of the Temple).
To the hierodule whose command is noble,
The destroyer of foreign lands, presented by An with the me,
My Queen garbed in allure,
O Inanna, praise!


Source: Translation by Betty De Shong Meador

American Translators Association
Archives of ATA Journals

Temple Hymn 7
The Kesh Temple Of Ninhursag                   The Lofty

high-lying Kesh
in all heaven and earth you are the form-shaping place
spreading fear like a great poisonous snake
O Lady of the Mountains Ninhursag’s house
built on a terrifying site
O Kesh like holy Aratta
inside is a womb dark and deep
your outside towers over all
imposing one
great lion of the wildlands stalking the high plains
great mountain
incantations fixed you in place
inside the light is dim
even moonlight (Nanna’s light) does not enter
only Nintur Lady Birth
makes it beautiful
O house of Kesh
the brick of birthgiving
your temple tower adorned with a lapis lazuli crown
your princess
Princess of Silence
unfailing great Lady of Heaven
when she speaks heaven shakes
open-mouthed she roars
Aruru sister of Enlil
O house of Kesh
has built this house on your radiant site
and placed her seat upon your dais

Temple Hymn 15
The Gishbanda Temple Of Ningishzida

ancient place
set deep in the mountain
dark shrine frightening and red place
safely placed in a field
no one can fathom your mighty hair-raising path
the neck-stock the fine-eyed net
the foot-shackling netherworld knot
your restored high wall is massive
like a trap
your inside the place where the sun rises
yields widespread abundance
your prince the pure-handed
shita priest of Inanna heaven’s holy one
Lord Ningishzida
his thick and beautiful hair
falls down his back
O Gishbanda
has built this house on your radiant site
and placed his seat upon your dais

Temple Hymn 17
The Badtibira Temple Of Dumuzi                  Emush

O house
jeweled lapis herbs fleck the shining bed
heart-soothing place of the Lady of the Steppe
Emush brickwork glistening and pure
its burnished clay placed firmly (on the earth)
your sky-rising wall sprawls over the high plain
for the one who tends the ewes
and over the Arali House for the shepherd
your prince radiant one of the Holy Woman
a lion pacing the steppe back and forth
the wonder-causing pure breasted one
the Lord spouse of pure Inanna
Dumuzi     master of the Emush
O Badtibira (fortress of the coppersmith)
has built this house on your radiant site
and placed his seat upon your dais

Temple Hymn 20
The Lagash Temple Of Ningirsu                     Eninnu

right arm of thick-necked Lagash in Sumer
with heavy-cloud bird Anzu’s eyes
that scan insurgent mountains
Ningirsu’s crowd-flattener blade a menace to all lands
battle arm blasting storm drenching everyone
battle arm all the great gods the Annuna
grant again and again
so from your skin of bricks
on the rim of the holy hill green as mountains
you determine fates
a holy whirlpool spins in your river
blowing whirlwinds spawn from your glance
at the gate facing the Holy City
they pour wine into fine stone vessels of An
out under the sky
what comes in cannot be equaled
what goes out never ceases
at the fiery face of the Shugalam gate
its radiant brilliance the fate-cutting site
Lord Ningirsu besieges with hair-raising fear
all the Annuna appear at your great wine festival
your prince furious storm-wind
destroyer of rebel cities
your king angry bull flaunting his brawn
savage lion that makes heads shake
warrior the lord of lords who plots schemes
king of kings who mounts victories
mighty one great hero in battle has no rival
son of Enlil lord Ningirsu
O Eninnu
has built this house on your radiant site
and established his seat upon your throne

Temple Hymn 22
The Sirara Temple Of Nanshe

O house you wild cow
there to conjure signs from divination
you arise splendid to behold
bedecked for your princess
Sirara great and princely place
you dream-opener
highly prized in the shrine
your lady Nanshe
a great storm
strong dark water
born on the shore of the sea
laughing in the sea foam
playing playing in the waves
divine Nanshe mighty Lady
O house of Sirara
has built this house on your radiant site
and placed her seat upon your dais

Temple Hymn 26
The Zabalam Temple Of Inanna

O house wrapped in beams of light
wearing shining stone jewels wakening great awe
sanctuary of pure Inanna
(where) divine powers the true me spread wide
shrine of the shining mountain
shrine that welcomes the morning light
she makes resound with desire
the Holy Woman grounds your hallowed chamber
with desire
your queen Inanna of the sheepfold
that singular woman
the unique one
who speaks hateful words to the wicked
who moves among the bright shining things
who goes against rebel lands
and at twilight makes the firmament beautiful
all on her own
great daughter of Suen
pure Inanna
O house of Zabalam
has built this house on your radiant site
and placed her seat upon your dais

Temple Hymn 42
The Eresh Temple of Nisaba                                Ezagin

this shining house of stars bright with lapis stones
has opened itself to all lands
a whole mix of people in the shrine every month
lift heads for you Eresh
all the primeval lords
soapwort the very young saba on your platform
great Nanibgal Nisaba Lady of Saba
brought powers down from heaven
added her measure to your powers
enlarged the shrine set it up for praising
faithful woman exceeding in wisdom
opens [her] mouth [to recite] over cooled lined
always consults lapis tablets
[and] gives strong council to all lands
true woman of the pure soapwort
born of the sharpened reed
who measures the heavens by cubits
strikes the coiled measuring rod on the earth
praise be to Nisaba
the person who bound this tablet together
is Enheduanna
my king something never before created
did not this one give birth to it

1. Ninhursag was the great goddess of nature, wild and tame. Wild
animals were her children. She watched over human birth in all its
aspects, as germ-loosener, blood-stauncher, mother-spreading-theknees,
and mother-who-has-given-birth. By the mid-third millennium
B.C.E., she was among the trio of the great deities, along with
An of heaven, and Enlil of the wind. She attended to form-shaping,
both in the womb and in the dark interior of her temple. The Sumerian
word for womb, arhush, also means compassion. She was patron
deity of the important city of Kesh in the mid-portion of the
fertile alluvium of Sumer.

2. Ningishzida, a frightful deity of the Netherworld, held the important
position there of chair-bearer, who carried notable persons arriving
in that unsavory place. The hymn implies that the Netherworld
came into being at creation, calling it ki-ul, primeval place,
set deep in the mountains, the mountains east of Sumer that were,
when the earth was flat, believed to be the place the dead would reside.
Later, the underworld lay under the abzu, the sweet water ocean
beneath the earth.

3. Dumuzi, the epitome of the young dying gods, was spouse of the
inimitable Inanna, Enheduanna’s personal deity. This hymn focuses
on Inanna, the “Holy Woman,” whose heart will be soothed on Dumuzi’s
“shining bed.” Inanna banished Dumuzi to the underworld
as ransom for her freedom, when she discovered him basking in her
royal robe on her royal throne, not mourning her loss at all.

4. The hymn describes Ningirsu as a ferocious warrior. In other contexts
he was the gentle god of the plough. Here he entertains the
great gods in a ‘great wine festival.’ War and refinement, savage
destruction and divine revelry cohabit under his roof. His temple
dominated the territory of Lagash, as one ancient inscriptions says,
“The Eninnu, its dread covered all the lands like a garment.”

5. Nanshe is goddess of the sea, notable for spanning the unreachable
distance between the conscious civilized society and the dark
and demonic waters of the unknown sea. She is the dream inter-
preter of the gods and adept at divination. The poet Enheduanna in her role
as high priestess, like Nanshe, interpreted dreams. Nanshe also cared for
the socially disadvantaged, exerting her concerns for social justice and

6. Three of the 42 Temple Hymns feature Inanna, Enheduanna’s personal
deity, each highlighting one of her salient characteristics: the sensual, astral,
or warrior goddess. Inanna, some say, was the most important deity in
the ancient world, her temple at Uruk dating from the fifth millennium B.
C.E. until the Common Era. All of Sumer’s initial deities were astral beings;
the first three were cosmic lights, the moon, the sun, and the radiant
morning and evening star – Inanna. Her jeweled mountain temple at Zabalam
houses the axis mundi, the opening through which the celestial rotation
emerges. Inanna opens the gate each morning at this nodal point of
the cosmos. She is the epitome of desire, the energizing force that animates
creation and fuels the heavenly procession. Suen/Nanna is her father
the moon.
The me (a Sumerian word) were the many aspects of the known world,
both the natural world and that of civilization. Each deity was given dominion
over a portion of the me. In this hymn, Innana’s sanctuary guards
her portion, her dominion.

7. Nisaba is the venerable goddess of writing who watched over the Sumerians’
remarkable achievements in the arts, sciences, and literature. Evolving
from record-keeping tabulations, stamped or drawn into damp clay,
true writing began to emerge in the late fourth millennium B.C.E. The first
literary tablets discovered are from 2600 B.C.E. A new profession, the
scribes, emerged. They worshiped Nisaba as their protector, guide, and
inspiration. Her realm encompassed all scholarly pursuits – from the creative
and intellectual achievements of literature and science to the practical
recording of the elements of civil life. As purveyor of creative thought,
she came to be known as the goddess of wisdom. The ‘saba’ portion of
her name, the sacred soapwort plant, is written in Emesal, a dialect of the
Sumerian language used to record the speech of women, and in this case,
the names of goddesses. This final Temple Hymn omits the usual colophon
and adds Enheduanna’s personal signature.

11/9/2016 10:36:57 pm

Nice Article

10/27/2017 10:47:39 am


11/22/2016 04:49:31 am

Love it
I do recollect that story

10/27/2017 10:48:24 am

skilli dilly pop pop

10/27/2017 10:47:14 am

I loved it. I used it for my school project

3/22/2019 01:46:01 pm

i used it for my poetry portofolio project

6/4/2021 12:43:40 pm

Good stuff. Thanks for sharing


Leave a Reply.


    This is where you'll find the literature of ancient texts that I highly recommend that you be reading along with each lesson. The entries will be in chrono-logical order in accordance with the lesson numbering system. (For example: Mesopotamian texts, which complement The Near East, will be first; followed by Egyptian and so on.)

    Each entry will have a link attached to it to provide an online source for the material. Most, but not all, of the resource links are home to websites with extensive availability of ancient texts. It is highly encouraged for you to visit these sites in order to gain more exposure to texts-in-translation.

    Lastly, for ease of navigation, I have included a category menu (below). Simply click the category of the entry that you're looking for and you'll be taken to the specific folder in which it resides. From there, scroll through the entries to find the one you want. (Most categories will only have one or two listings!) For example, if you want to read The Cyrus Cylinder, click the Persian category menu.



    April 2012