Language’s Power: time travel

Oh, the power of language… International Poetry Month beckons!

Bonnie McClellan-Broussard

In my previous post, Language’s Power: across the universe, I mentioned the power of language to create and transmit images across time and space, a pas de deux between writer and reader. How far back can we travel through time? One of the many inspiring things I encountered in 2016 was some poetry that had its beginnings in the 21st century BCE: a new and utterly gripping translation by Andrew George of the Epic of Gilgamesh along with fragments of other Akkadian and Sumerian poems. What a flood of fascinating images! Interestingly, the ones that have stuck with me are the ones that I can’t resolve because they are are so unfamiliar; as when, in the Old Babylonian poem In those days, in those far-off days, the goddess Inanna takes an uprooted willow from the banks of the Euphrates to plant in her garden:

‘I, the woman, did not plant…

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17 thoughts on “Language’s Power: time travel

  1. Pingback: Poets United – touchdownohio

  2. I, too, enjoyed reading this … years back I did a bit of Inanna study, and could have used a trip to the past to inquire about several wordings. Robert, are you active in Austin’s International Poetry Festival each April?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The development of written language fascinates me to no end. I’ve not been active in the Austin International Poetry Festival or, for that matter, the Austin poetry scene. I attend the occasional reading, but otherwise don’t get out all that often.


  3. Yes! Thank you, Sir Robert! This post gives me such hope.

    I, too, believe that poetry’s power both to birth the previously ‘unsayable/unsaid’ and to resurrect the ‘no-longer-said’ in its original purity from its ancient, buried roots, embodies our best hope in the face of the twisted, anti-intellectual, post-truth ‘traditionalism’ currently saturating and threatening the endurance of the human psyche… The divine-feminine will continue on humanity’s behalf to tamp down the blight and foster our vital sustenance with her foot — as surely as poetry’s lifeblood is her very life-death-life nature, which reaches our visceral depths to restore us to wholeness.

    Liked by 1 person

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