Lament to The Spirit of War

February 1, 2007 at 11:43 am 6 comments



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?

Translation version © 1988 by Daniela Gioseffi

What did the earliest anti-war poetry look like? What did the poet talk about? Did she/he feel the same helplessness and rage, poets today go through? What better way to find out, than go to the source?

Enheduanna (c. 2300 BC), a Sumerian poet/priestess, is considered the first author/poet known by name — male or female. Incidentally, she might also be one of the earliest anti-war protestors in history.

Here she sets the stage with such obvious gusto, thunder, rage, roar, and drum, the explosive fury that seems to be swallowing the earth, and then, ends the poem in an introspective and zen-like manner – Who can explain why you go on so? In essence, she presents the same horrors and the same issues, we face 4000 years later.

The reading is from here, and it does not strictly follow the text above.


Entry filed under: Black Mamba, Daniela Gioseffi, Enheduanna, Sumerian, War Poetry.

I’m explaining a few things Two Armies

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. hazel8500  |  June 17, 2007 at 2:03 am

    The audio of this poem was amazing to hear. Its the first time I’ve heard one of Enheduana’s poems read out loud. Wow! Loved it.

    • 2. Rayssa Madeira  |  December 6, 2011 at 6:30 pm

      I guess so too…I loved too

      Rayssa Madeira Santos
      Webmaster ofFunk Proibidão

  • 3. Thundercasts Good To Go! « hazel8500  |  August 6, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    […] year old poem penned by En-Hen-Du-an-a called Lament of the spirit of war. I first found it on Audio Poetry […]

  • 4. 10/52 Song List « hazel8500  |  August 6, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    […] Lament To The Spirit of War, c.2500 BC Written by Enheduanna Herstorical […]

  • […] words of Sumerian high priestess Enheduanna, who lived in the 24th century BCE, in her poem “Lament to the Spirit of War,” fill my mind as I look down at the trap door hidden beneath a layer of dry leaves.  I am in Cu Chi, […]

  • 6. The Mesopotamian Shakespeare « ALL MESOPOTAMIA  |  June 25, 2012 at 4:12 am

    […] Perhaps Hallo dubbed Enheduanna the Shakespeare of Sumerian Literature for her writings on things that continue to be timeless subjects continually discussed in even the most modern literature-like the horrors of war she describes in “Lament to the Spirit of War.” […]


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