P&W Prompt: Love Through the Ages

Alright, well, despite my best efforts, I’ve gotten even more behind than I already was!  I have a good reason, trust me, but for now: it’s top secret.  Until I can tell you more, I’ll be moving right along with these poetry prompts.  Here’s the Valentine’s Day prompt from Poets & Writers Magazine:

“The Love Song for Shu-Sin”—written around 2000 BCE in ancient Mesopotamia—is considered the oldest love poem that exists in text form, but also functioned as a song performed during a sacred marriage ceremony for Shu-Sin, a ruler in the city of Ur. Read through Sumerologist Samuel Noah Kramer’s translation and think about the elements of the writing that tie it to its specific time and context. What feels ancient about the poem? Can you extrapolate or interpret its meanings in a way that reflect your own experiences of contemporary love? Write a love poem that meditates on love as it might have been expressed four thousand years ago versus how you see it today.   [Jump to the final draft]

To save you the click, here’s the translation I’ll be working from:

Bridegroom, dear to my heart,
Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet,
Lion, dear to my heart,
Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet.

You have captivated me, let me stand tremblingly before you.
Bridegroom, I would be taken by you to the bedchamber,
You have captivated me, let me stand tremblingly before you.
Lion, I would be taken by you to the bedchamber.

Bridegroom, let me caress you,
My precious caress is more savory than honey,
In the bedchamber, honey-filled,
Let me enjoy your goodly beauty,
Lion, let me caress you,
My precious caress is more savory than honey.

Bridegroom, you have taken your pleasure of me,
Tell my mother, she will give you delicacies,
My father, he will give you gifts.

Your spirit, I know where to cheer your spirit,
Bridegroom, sleep in our house until dawn,
Your heart, I know where to gladden your heart,
Lion, sleep in our house until dawn.

You, because you love me,
Give me pray of your caresses,
My lord god, my lord protector,
My Shu-Sin, who gladdens Enlil’s heart,
Give my pray of your caresses.
Your place goodly as honey, pray lay your hand on it,
Bring your hand over like a gishban-garment,
Cup your hand over it like a gishban-sikin-garment

It is a balbale-song of Inanna.

 

I’ve been working on this collection about the life of a relationship, and this is the perfect kind of prompt for developing some new work for the collection.  Rather than attempting to write a new love poem for a person, I decided to take the prompt’s instructions a bit more literally and to write a love poem about love itself.  My mind also, for reasons completely unknown to me (that’s the way the poetic brain works sometimes), went almost immediately to Langston Hughes’ poem, “Harlem” which gave me the idea for my title.

I basically started by following the format of the translated poem and then, in the end, abandoned the poem because it became obvious pretty quickly that it’s forced and not very interesting.  Since I have lots of fish to fry when it comes to these prompts (that just never quit coming!), I’m leaving it here.  Maybe I can come back to it at some point, for now, here’s where I’m leaving it:

 

LOVE SONG FOR A DREAM DEFERRED

Love, sing for me tonight

I have waited for you all my days

Dreamsong, sing for me tonight

I have waited for you all my days

 

You are shimmering mirage, let me drink

Love, let me float in your swirling embrace,

You are shimmering mirage, let me drink

dreamsong, let me float in your swirling embrace.

 

Love, don’t elude my reach

I hold one small hand out to touch you,

the empty night air chills my bones,

let me dream of our love,

dreamsong, don’t elude my reach,

I hold one small hand out to touch you.

 

 

Let me know if you attempt this one.  I’d love to see other responses to the prompt and directions you might take it.  Until next time, onward!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s