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.
Those writers known from the old days,
the times just after the gods —
Those who foretold what would happen (and did),
whose names endure for eternity —
They disappeared when they finished their lives,
and all their kindred were forgotten.
They did not build pyramids in bronze
with gravestones of iron from heaven;
They did not think to leave a patrimony made of children
who would give their names distinction.
Rather, they formed a progeny by means of writings
and in the books of wisdom which they left.
The papyrus roll became their lector-priest,
the writing-board their loving son;
Books of wisdom were their pyramids,
the reed-pen was their child, smoothed stone their spouse.
In this way great and small became their inheritors;
and the writer was the father of them all!
What they built of gates and chapels are now fallen,
their soul-priests and their gardeners are gone,
Their headstones undiscovered in the dirt,
their very graves forgotten.
But their fame lives on in their papyrus rolls
composed while they were still alive;
And the memory of those who write such books will last
to the end of time and for eternity.
from “The Wisdom of Amenemopet”, Ancient Egypt, most likely during the Ramesside Period (ca. 1300 BCE – 1075 BCE) according to the Wikipedia article anyway. Translated by John L. Foster in Ancient Egyptian Literature: An Anthology
This was said to be written by Amenemopet for his son, a scribe named Hor-em-maa-kheru. This quote is from near the end of a long document in a category known as “wisdom texts”, which were often in the form of advice about life from an aging father to his son (although that may or may not sometimes be a fictional element). This particular one has many parallels to the Book of Proverbs in the Bible and may have influenced it.
I wonder how many writers have made this observation, Shakespeare among them. And I wonder how many of those have their words survive the 3000+ years this one survived. Shakespeare says fire won’t destroy his words, but paired with reading Egyptian literature I can only imagine how the world would be different if the library of Alexandria hadn’t burned (a loss that still seems immeasurably sad to me). There’s a lot of luck involved in having your writing stick around this long and be intelligible to the people of the future. But I have to be impressed that this particular musing on the immortality of writing still exists and has been translated. I only hope it and as much other writing as possible survives the next 3000 years. I may hate language due to its distance from reality, but for some things there’s nothing better, and one of those is ensuring your ideas have the possibility of enduring for centuries or even millennia. And this in turn gives the reader the feeling of being able to time travel.
“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.