Hymn to ISHTAR

Hymn to ISHTAR


There were two dialects in ancient Sumeria, and the invocatory hymns were composed in what was known as “the women’s language”. It must not be inferred, however, that the ladies of Sumeria had established a speech which differed from that used by men. The reference would appear to be to a softer and homelier dialect, perhaps the oldest of the two, in which poetic emotion found fullest and most beautiful expression. In these ancient days, as in our own, the ideal of womanhood was the poet’s chief source of inspiration, and among the hymns the highest reach of poetic art was attained in the invocation of Ishtar, the Babylonian Venus. The following hymn is addressed to that deity in her Valkyrie-like character as a goddess of war, but her more feminine traits are not obscured:-

To thee I cry, O lady of the gods, Lady of ladies, goddess without peer, Ishtar who shapes the lives of all mankind, Thou stately world queen, sovereign of the sky,  And lady ruler of the host of heaven–lustrious is thy name… O light divine, Gleaming in lofty splendour o’er the earth–Heroic daughter of the moon, oh! hear; Thou dost control our weapons and award  In battles fierce the victory at will– crown’d majestic Fate.

Ishtar most high, Who art exalted over all the gods, Thou bringest lamentation; thou dost urge    With hostile hearts our brethren to the fray;  The gift of strength is thine for thou art strong; Thy will is urgent, brooking no delay; Thy hand is violent, thou queen of war Girded with battle and enrobed with fear…  Thou sovereign wielder of the wand of Doom, The heavens and earth are under thy control.

Adored art thou in every sacred place, In temples, holy dwellings, and in shrines, Where is thy name not lauded? where thy will  Unheeded, and thine images not made? Where are thy temples not up-reared? O, where Art thou not mighty, peerless, and supreme?…Read More