This is me when I'm not doing the stuff for my regular blog. That means not necessarily as careful, not necessarily as able to do things, lots of things could be different than usual. I don't do trigger warnings, and I have genuine well thought out reasons that aren't just some kind of callous BS.
God is a master craftsman;
yet none can draw the lines of His Person.
Fair features first came into being
in the hushed dark where He mused alone;
He forged His own figure there,
hammered His likeness out of Himself —
All-powerful one (yet kindly,
whose heart would lie open to men).
He mingled His heavenly god-seed
with the inmost parts of His being,
Planting His image there
in the unknown depths of His mystery.
He cared, and the sacred form
took shape and contour, resplendent at birth!
God, skilled in the intricate ways of the craftsman
first fashioned Himself to perfection.
from “The Leiden Hymns”, ancient Egypt, circa 1227 BCE. Translated by John L. Foster, Ancient Egyptian Literature: An Anthology
Note that when ancient Egyptians used the word “God” alone like this it’s meant to refer to whichever particular god may be under discussion. In this case it’s Amun.
I went back to the Leiden hymns because of a statement in one of my other books on ancient Egyptian culture. The author had said that ancient Egypt had no mystics. I already knew it to be highly improbable at best (and how could someone claim to know such a thing about a civilization that was around for millennia and that we only have comparatively scant literature from and no direct contact??), but many parts of the Leiden hymns seem to show otherwise in a very direct way. It’s little things scattered here and there throughout the hymns. This hymn is one of the more obvious ones. I strongly recommend getting hold of a good translation of these. Some of them can be found on the Internet, and several are in the book I’m currently quoting from.
How splendid you ferry the skyways,
Horus of Twin Horizons,
The needs of each new day
firm in your timeless pattern,
Who fashion the years,
weave months into order —
Days, nights, and the very hours
Move to the gait of your striding
Refreshed by your diurnal shining, you quicken,
bright above yesterday,
Making the zone of night sparkle
although you belong to the light,
Sole one awake there
— sleep is for mortals,
Who go to rest grateful:
your eyes oversee.
And theirs by the millions you open
when your face new-rises, beautiful;
Not a bypath escapes your affection
during your season on earth.
from “The Leiden Hymns”, ancient Egypt, circa 1227 BCE. Translated by John L. Foster, from Ancient Egyptian Literature: An Anthology
Now I’m getting into some of the religious writing, and I particularly love how this part of one of the hymns conveys a sense of awe and wonder.
“And with the shape of you I people night,
and thoughts of hot desire grow live within me.
What magic was it in that voice of yours
to bring such singing vigor to my flesh,
To limbs which now lie listless on my bed without you?”
from “I Love You Through the Daytimes”, ancient Egypt, Ramesside Period (1292 BCE - 1070 BCE), translated by John L. Foster in Ancient Egyptian Literature: An Anthology
As may be obvious I’m looking through several books of ancient Egyptian literature at the moment. I’m really enjoying the love poems. What always drives me to read ancient literature is the sense of connection despite unimaginable gulfs of time. I’d never downplay the cultural differences or my interest in them, but there are some things that don’t change much (although attitudes and perceptions of them may change) and love is one of them. And the communication of that love across the millenia makes me absurdly happy and full of awe at the same time.