Language’s Power: time travel

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

Bonnie McClellan's Weblog

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?

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    • 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.

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  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.

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