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*A sacred Hymn to Ishtar read aloud in the original Babylonian.

Original Transcription

English Translation

1 [i]ltam zumrā rašubti ilātim
2 litta’‘id bēlet nišī rabīt igigī
3 ištar zumrā rašubti ilātim
4 litta’’id bēlet iššī rabīt igigī

1 Sing ye of the goddess, the most fearsome of the gods,
2 Praise be upon the lady ruler of men, the greatest of the Igigi!
3 Sing ye of Ishtar, the most fearsome of the gods,
4 Praise be upon the lady ruler of women, the greatest of the Igigi!

5 šāt mēliṣim ru’āmam labšat
6 za’nat inbī mīqiam u kuzbam
7 ištar mēliṣim ru’āmam labšat
8 za’nat inbī mīqiam u kuzbam

5 She who gets excited, clothed in sex appeal,
6 adorned with fruits, charm and allure.
7 Ishtar, who gets excited, clothed in sex appeal,
8 adorned with fruits, charm and allure.

9 [š]aptīn duššupat balāṭum pīša
10 simtišša ihannīma ṣīhātum
11 šarhat irimmū ramû rēšušša
12 baniwā šimtāša bitrāmā īnāša šit’arā

9 She is sweet at the lips, her mouth is life,
10 Delights are lush on her cheeks,
11 She is lovely, beads are strewn on her head,
12 Her cheeks are comely, her eyes twinkle and sparkle.

13 eltum ištawša ibašši milkum
14 šīmat mimmami qātišša tamhat
15 napalsušša bani buārum
16 bāštum mašrahu lamassum šēdum

13 The pure one, with her rests counsel,
14 She holds in her hand the fate of anything you care to name,
15 Seeing her makes for happiness,
16 Pride, splendour, protective spirit male and female.

17 tartāmī tešmê ritūmī ṭūbī
18 u mitguram tebēl šīma
19 ardat tattadû umma tarašši
20 izakkarši in-nišī inabbi šumša

17 Of love-making, seduction, making love, pleasure
18 and harmony, she is the lady ruler.
19 The girl who was exposed will get a mother,
20 She will mention her among the people, speak her name.

21 ayyûm narbiaš išannan mannum
22 gašrū ṣīrū šūpû parṣūša
23 ištar narbiaš išannan mannum
24 gašrū ṣīrū šūpû parṣūša

21 Who can rival any of her glory?
22 her powers are mighty, exalted and manifest.
23 Ishtar, who can rival her glory?
24 her powers are mighty, exalted and manifest.

25 qa-a-at in-ilī atar nazzāzuš
26 kabtat a[m]assa elšunu haltatma
27 ištar inilī atar nazzazzuš
28 kabtat amassa elšunu haltatma

 25 …. among the gods, her standing is huge,
26 Her word is mighty, she has power over them.
27 Ishtar among the gods, her standing is huge,
28 Her word is mighty, she has power over them.

29 šarrassun uštanaddanū siqrīša
30 kullassunu šâš kamsūši
31 nannarīša ilaqqûšim
32 iššû u awīlum palhūšīma

29 They are always getting their queen to impart orders,
30 All of them bow down before her,
31 They take her luminous insignia from her,
32 Woman and man hold her in fear.

33 puhriššun etel qabûša šūtur
34 ana anim šarrišunu ma-la-am ašbassunu
35 uznam nēmeqim hasīsam eršet
36 imtallikū šī u hammuš

33 To all of them together her speech is noble (and) exalted,
34 Among them she sits, equal to Anu their king,
35 She is wise in understanding, shrewdness and comprehension,
36 She and her husband confer.

37 ramûma ištēniš parakkam
38 iggēgunnim šubat rīšātim
39 muttiššun ilū nazuzzū
40 epšiš pīšunu bašiwā uznāšun

37 The have sat down on the dais together,
38 In Gēgunnu, (their) delightful dwelling,
39 The gods stand before them,
40 Awaiting her bidding.

41 šarrum migrašun narām libbišun
42 šarhiš itnaqqišunūt niqiašu ellam
43 ammi-ditāna ellam niqī qātīšu
44 mahrīšun ušebbi li’ī u ayyālī na-am-ra-i-i

41 The king, their favourite, the beloved of their hearts,
42 Makes his pure sacrifice before them in splendour.
43 *In their presence, Ammiditana with his own hands
44 *Made pure offerings aplenty of bulls and fattened deer.

45 išti anim hāmerīša tēteršaššum
46 dāriam balāṭam arkam
47 mādātim šanāt balāṭim ana ammi-ditāna
48 tušatlim ištar tattadin

45 From Anum, her bridegroom, she has demanded for him
46 a long life forever.
47 Many years of life to Ammiditana
48 Ishtar has granted and given.

49 siqrušša tušaknišaššum
50 kibrāt erbêm ana šēpīšu
51 u naphar kalīšunu dadmī
52 taṣṣammissunūti an-nīrīšu

49 By her command she has made bow down
50 At his feet the four corners of the earth,
51 And all the orb of the earth
52 She has bound to his yoke.

53 bibel libbīša zamar lalêša
54 naṭûmma ana pîšu siqri ea īpussi
55 ešmēma tanittaša irīssu
56 libluṭmi šarrašu lirāmšu ad-dāriš

53 Her heart’s desire, the song of her praise,
54 is fitting for his mouth, her has obeyed a command of Ea.
55 “I have heard her eulogy” (said Ea), and he was delighted with it.
56 “May her king live” (he said), “may she love him forever!”.

57 ištar ana ammi-ditāna šarri rā’imīki
58 arkam dāriam balāṭam šurkī libluṭ

57 O Ishtar, upon Ammiditāna, the king who loves you,
58 bestow a long life for ever more! May he live!



“Friday October 31st, 2014. Refugees at the belgian federal asylum seekers center Klein Kasteeltje/Petit Chateau in Brussels were invited to gather in a so called ‘phonecard party’, initiated by Recyclart at the asylum center. The people from Syria, Afganistan, Albania, Palestine, Senegal.. were helped by the dj to plug-in their phones in the mixing table and play the favourite songs they stored on their device.

"The result was an at least sweaty and astonishing event, with a hard to grasp atmosphere. The festive and somehow cosmopolitan mixing of local and often unshazamable mp3 hits had a dark and hysterical side to it. Nostalgia, hope, despair, trauma, adventure, melancholy, excitement and pride,.. all this was part of the melting pot and shared in a single room.

"The disco gathering was loud in every aspect: the music, the cheering and the clapping, the way people danced, laughed and sweated or sat idle on a stool and stared. Loud.

"Mixed groups of arab adolescent men, african women, eastern european families with childeren and elderly people all participated in what resembled an unfamiliar wedding party. Each new song that was played introduced a different traditional or less traditional dance to the floor, which was then interpreted by the others, or simply denied in favour of cheerful improvisation.

"Apart maybe from my own presence, there was nothing exotic to this confusing reality of a hysterically loud transit zone….”



This is such an important conversation. A beautiful musing on community from this week’s show with Jennifer Michael Hecht on suicide.

Ms. Tippett: There’s a way you’re framing this, and you invoke, you know, Maimonides saying, you know, he who destroys himself, destroys the world. You invoke Levinas, French Talmudic scholar that our acts of friendship are the most real and knowable aspect of the entire universe. I mean, you — the discussion you want to have is not so much against suicide, but for staying alive for each other. It’s choosing life.

Ms. Hecht: Yeah. And, it’s, yeah it’s choosing living.

Ms. Tippett: Yeah, choosing staying alive.

Ms. Hecht: Choosing staying alive, and yes, I thought of myself as an individual before I started doing this thinking in a way that I no longer do and I feel better.

Ms. Tippett: Right.

Ms. Hecht: It doesn’t really mean you have to go out and do a lot of communal things, though all sorts of studies show that will help. Force yourself to go be with other people is as a good start, but it’s also just this internal thing where I notice more that I’m part of this human thing. And that there’s no such thing as wasted contributions.

Ms. Hecht: And so, it really is — it’s a better feeling about what we are and what we’re doing, and most people through history had it without trying because they lived in tiny communities that were besieged by either drought or flood or whatever, and they had to work together to do anything. And they were more aware of their connection to each other. And, nowadays, we’re very…

Ms. Tippett: In a way, that connection was also just forced on them, right? It wasn’t optional. It’s optional for us.

Ms. Hecht: Right.

Ms. Tippett: Yeah.

Ms. Hecht: It’s optional, and I suggest taking that option whenever you want. But just be more aware that we have these all sorts of secret web-like connections to each other. And that sometimes when you can’t see what’s important about you, other people can. You know, even Augustine said you can’t kill yourself because God said thou shalt not kill and that’s it.

Ms. Tippett: Right. I mean, I feel like you sound a little bit like Maimonides when you say this is something you rejecting suicide is a huge act within a community. I also think it changes the universe. And you wrote, “Either the universe is a cold, dead place with a little growth of sentient but atomized beings, each all by him or herself trying to generate meaning, or we are in a universe that is alive with a growth of sentient beings whose members have made a pact with each other to persevere.”

Ms. Hecht: Yeah. That feels powerful to me. I feel like just the respect of the idea of love and meaning.


Lest one be boring, never talk about…

  1. how you slept (nobody cares)
  2. your period (nobody cares)
  3. your health (unless it’s something serious)
  4. your dreams (nobody cares about your dreams)
  5. money (it’s vulgar)
  6. diet (weight loss, food restrictions)
  7. route talk (how you got here, where you got lost)


*Stuff to listen to while reading 1980s Japanese translations of Bruce Sterling novels