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?
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.