Love finds a way

(or “The Ecstasy of Love,” or “Fooling mother”)

English interpretation by Alan Humm

This vignette from Inanna and Dumuzi’s courtship tells the story of a chance encounter between the lovers. He wants to take things where men usually want to take things in such situations; she does not want to get in trouble with her mother. When he walks her home, she privately wishes (if we follow Jacobsen’s interpretation) her mother would come and invite him in so things can move in the direction of marriage. Kramer thinks this is exactly what happened, but instigated by Dumuzi.

This interpretation is a paraphrase based on the translations of Samuel Noah Kramer, the ETCSL translators, and Thorkild Jacobsen (see sources). Jacobsen does not translate the first eight lines, and I think Kramer’s reading is too astrological for this story. All translations suffer from what I will call, “translationese,” which usually results from a tendency to abandon ease of reading for translational over-exactness (following even the word order where possible).
The Sumerian text, maintained by the ETCSL project, can be viewed here.

Notes are ‘mouse hover style’, connected to passages in green.

Please report errors to me (link at end of page). -Alan Humm


The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature [ETCSL] (2003). A tigi to Inana (Dumuzid-Inana H). Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford. Accessed 6/2011.

Jacobsen’s translation can be found, mixed with discussion, in:
Jacobsen, Thorkild. (1976). The Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian Religion. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Kramer’s translation appears in three places (that I know of):
Kramer, Samuel Noah (1969). The ecstasy of love. Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament with Supplement. Pritchard, James B. (Ed.). Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press. P. 639f.

---- (1979). From the Poetry of Sumer: Creation, Glorification, Adoration (UNA's Lectures). Berkeley: University of California Press. Pp. 79f.

Wolkstein, Diane & S. N. Kramer. (1983). Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer. Harper Perennial.


    Yesterday, as I, the lady, was passing my time
as I, Inanna, was passing my time,
I was dancing about,
as I was welcoming the oncoming night with a song,

he met me, he met me,
the Lord Friend of An met me.
The Lord put his hand in my hand;
Ucumgal-ana embraced me.

[I said,]
o10       “Come on, wild bull, set me free, I need to go home,
          Friend of Enlil, set me free, I need to go home.
    How will I fool my mother;
    How will I fool my mother Ningal?”

        “Let me teach you, let me teach you.
    Inanna, let me teach you how women fool people:
        ‘My girl friend took me with her to the public square,
        where we danced to the music of tambourine recorder.
        She sang her sweet song for me;
        it was so sweet, I lost track of time.’
    You can say that to fool your mother,
o20       but we will give in to our passion by the moonlight.
         Let me loosen your hair for you on this noble bed,
    and pass sweet time with you in joyful fulfillment.”
It is sagidda.
     I the maiden [was] in the streets and alleys…all day…with you
{11 lines broken or missing}



    {Two lines broken or missing missing}
He decided to come to our mother's gate;
I’m so excited I’m walking on air.
He decided to come to Ningal's gate—
I’m so excited I’m walking on air.
r10   I wish someone would tell my mother;
     she would scent the house with cedar.
I wish someone would tell my mother;
she would scent the house with cedar.
Her house would smell so sweet,
and speak to him encouragingly:

Ningal (In Inanna’s imagination (perhaps)):
        “My Lord, you are indeed worthy of the holy embrace,
     Ama-ucumgal-ana, the son-in-law of Sin.
    Lord Dumuzi, you are indeed worthy of the holy embrace,
     Ama-ucumgal-ana, the son-in-law of Sin.
    My Lord, your produce is pleasing,
    your plants and herbs from the plain are sweet.
r20       Amaushumgalanna, your produce is sweet,
         so, even, are your desert plants and herbs.

It is sagarra. A lyre-song of Inanna.

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