Chapter 45: Enheduanna

Enheduanna – the earliest known poet recorded. High Priestess of the goddess Inanna and the moon god Nanna. All round bad-ass legend. I won’t butcher what is essentially other peoples hard work and research by trying to reword what has already been re-worded, no doubt, hundreds of times.

I would never have come across this amazing woman had I not seen the documentary: The Ascent of Woman by Dr Amanda Foreman OR Divine Women by Dr Bettany Hughes. I know it’s becoming a feminist cliché but I don’t really care – they truly switched some buried, epigenetic shit buried deep inside awakening my favourite historical past time – Why in the fuck were women wiped from history?

I have included The Hyper Texts version of Enheduanna below.

The HyperTexts

The Temple Hymns of Enheduanna
with modern English translations by Michael R. Burch

Enheduanna, the daughter of the famous King Saragon the Great of Akkad, is the first ancient writer whose name remains known today. She appears to be the first named poet in human history and the first known author of prayers and hymns. Enheduanna, who lived circa 2285-2250 BCE, is also one of the first women we know by name. She was the entu (high priestess) of the goddess Inanna (Ishtar/Astarte/Aphrodite) and the moon god Nanna (Sin) in the Sumerian city-state of Ur. Enheduanna's composition Nin-me-šara ("The Exaltation of Inanna") details her expulsion from Ur, located in southern Iraq, along with her prayerful request to the goddess for reinstatement. Enheduanna also composed 42 liturgical hymns addressed to temples across Sumer and Akkad. And she was the first editor of a poetry anthology, hymnal or songbook. Now known as the Sumerian Temple Hymns, this was the first collection of its kind; indeed, Enheduanna so claimed at the end of the final hymn: "My king, something has been created that no one had created before." And poems and songs are still being assembled today via the model she established over 4,000 years ago! Enheduanna may also have been the first feminist, as I explain in the notes that follow my translations of her poems.—MRB

Ancient Akkadian Cylindrical Seal Depicting Inanna and Ninshubur Public Domain

By Molly Meary ©

Ode to Enheduanna

soul tune
love legacy
first of all firsts
where is our memory
of you
where are the footnotes
lectures and exams
of enheduanna-not-a-man?
first named woman
first name signed
first writer
first poet
first author of prayer and hymn
first feminist
and first not a “him”
oh, but the fuck-you thrill
to have Inanna kill
She – ruler supreme
over all gods
opportune leaven
promotes Queen of Heaven
first holy entrepreneur of all that is good
despite relentless odds
How you tried Enheduanna
Moon Goddess
High Priestess
Almighty conqueror
fiery crossroads
Where you, unbeknownst
recalled shadows recent past
women stepping alongside male counterparts
For all your loving persistence
amidst sinister transition…
eye for an eye derailed
tooth for a tooth prevailed
Or did you?
you – of a knowing
Oracled dark corners to pass
Fire and sword
you etched your name
etched it deep
etched it first
never to remove
Knowing they…
blackest of cones
phallic and thick
Knowing they…
“If a woman speaks out of turn then her teeth shall be smashed by a brick”
uniter of kingdoms
peace speaker
turner of men’s minds
from warring and power
you did
turn them within
to the divine
in your precious hour
Signed your name
foreseeing future betrayal
time of yearning
Immortal signature
flipped humankind’s first bird
ensuring it would be your words
we hungered

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