Ancient Egyptian Love Poems

Here’s one from the Archives, that I originally wrote for a guest post on Romancing the Book in 2012. The occasion was the Release of my first story set in Ancient Egypt, PRIESTESS OF THE NILE. I’m going to be publishing the sequel, MAGIC OF THE NILE, in March:

???????????????????????????????The heart of Priestess of the Nile is the love story between Sobek the Crocodile God and Merys, the priestess of one of his temples. Set in Ancient Egypt around 1500BC, the romance plays out against a paranormal background, as Sobek is a shifter who can be fully human (and very hot if I may say so!), half human/half crocodile or fully crocodile (along the scale of a dinosaur or dragon). The Ancient Egyptians were a romantic people and wrote many poems about love and romance.  With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, I thought that made a good topic….

“Poetry is perhaps the greatest forgotten treasure of ancient Egypt,” said Richard Parkinson, an expert on ancient Egyptian poetry at London’s British Museum, home to the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts outside of Cairo. (Interview for National Geographic News 4/20/2004).

Love poems have been found in many excavations of Egyptian ruins, from the tombs of the rich to the ruins of humble workers’ villages. It is believed that originally the poems were passed down through memorization, much as the minstrels of the Middle Ages would preserve their tales of chivalry and the love between knights and fair ladies. Eventually the poems were committed to papyrus or even scribbled in hieratic on shards of pottery and therefore preserved for us to enjoy. Students may have copied out parts of poems when practicing to become scribes.

Sobek didn’t happen to recite any poetry to Merys in the course of the novel (although I’m sure he probably made up for that lapse later LOL) but here’s one fragment of a poem dating to the time where my story occurs:

The Flower Song (Excerpt)
To hear your voice is pomegranate wine to me:
I draw life from hearing it.
Could I see you with every glance,
It would be better for me
Than to eat or to drink.

(Translated by M.V. Fox)

Here’s another fragment which I enjoy, taken from a much longer poem:

She looks like the rising morning star

At the start of a happy year.

Shining bright, fair of skin,

Lovely the look of her eyes,

Sweet the speech of her lips,

She has not a word too much.

VS_PriestessOfTheNile There was no specific celebration or day devoted to love and lovers that we know about, but the goddess Hathor was the Egyptian deity personifying love, beauty, music, motherhood and joy. We can imagine her festivals probably served as an excuse for many a pair of young lovers to enjoy each other’s company. I didn’t include Hathor in Priestess of the Nile but she’s definitely involved in a key scene in  MAGIC OF THE NILE.

Sobek and Merys managed to fall in love and find joy together without needing intervention from Hathor! My best wishes to you for a Happy Valentine’s Day.


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