The once-great Sumer, you yet glow
Inflaming the dry seas we call
The desert. Your ephemeral,
Untouchable hands caress dust.
In deepest silence you will make
A mirror image staring back.
Each grain of sand: a star that sweeps
Across the desolation vast.
Bright Nanna, your heralds are
The bull and lion-dragon bold.
You marry Ningal, Nikkal
To the Canaanites. She bears you two
Strong children: ardent Inanna
Of love and war and passions fierce;
And shining solar Shamash, god
Of molten sun. Assyrians
Pray to you, Sin, called Namratz, “He
Who shines forth,” and Ashimbabbar,
Another name. At Harran, they
Know blazing Nusku as your son,
O Sin, the god of flame and light
Your cherished son in Harran’s lore.
In Anatolia your name,
Good Kushukh, secretly still drips
From the flaked lips of ghosts
And warriors who dare anew
To grasp the Hurrians’ old ways.
They beckon you great Kushukh to
Light the foothills with your radiance.
The people of a thousand gods,
Brave Hittites, bring their offerings
To wingéd Kashkhu. Nobly you
Don crescent crown, august and proud.
The Luwians watch you, esteemed
God Arma, favor Turkish nights,
The hours of darkness, with your clay
Lamp filled with olive oil
And linen wick that sparkles with
The lightest lover’s kiss of flame.
O Shipak, whom the Kassites praise,
Illumine the sand-strewn streets and cracked
Grand gates of conquered Babylon.
Yet I know of you, Canaanite
Yarikh. You woo your fruitful fair
Nikkal with star-flecked lapis lush,
With shimmering silver and with
A gift of gleaming gold. Your soft
Warm-honey’d words endear your souls
One to another, bound for life
Eternal. Heat-hazed, star-glazed nights
Bring forth your moist and virile dew
And quicken the fruit of Nikkal.
O moon gods, holy lamps of night,
We call your names, we beckon you,
O crescent-horned gods: measure months,
And tidal-pull the heavy seas;
Enrobe our skies in pearlescent
Rich drapes of lust’rous lunar-beam.
Written on winter solstice 2010 just prior to the full lunar eclipse. I wrote the poem in iambic quadrameter to represent the four phases of the moon. Originally published in Anointed: A Devotional Anthology for the Deities of the Near and Middle East. I would also like to point out that Nanna, Suen / Sin, Kushukh, Kashkhu, Arma, Shipak, and Yarikh (also called Yarikhu) are all male moon gods.
Since today is the evening of a full moon, I offer a hearty "Yishlam le-Yarikhi" (Hail Yarikhu!)
14 Ra'shu Yeni, Shanatu 85.
Day 1 of 'Ashuru Ra'shu Yeni, the Festival of New Wine.
The fourteenth day of the month of Ra'shu Yeni (New Wine), and the day of the full moon. It is the 85th year since the rediscovery of the Late Bronze Age Canaanite city-state of Ugarit, from where we have gained much of our primary source documents written in Ugaritic cuneiform on clay tablets. Our new year begins on the next new moon...
Image is a photograph taken by NASA of the moon just above the atmosphere. It is used under Creative Commons License.