In honour of World Poetry Day which is celebrated on March 21st, we are introducing three prominent Female Poets from the Ancient World! Enheduanna is the first author that we know of by name, and she was writing in Mesopotamia between 2285-2250 BCE. As the High Priestess of the goddess Inanna at the Temple of Ur, the poetry left behind by Enheduanna tells us of the Mesopotamian people's perceptions of the divine, the nature of their gods and Enheduanna's personal responses to events during her lifetime.
Sappho of Lesbos was a Greek poet who lived between 620 and 570 BCE. Much of her surviving poetry concerns itself with female homosexuality, and the words 'sapphic' and 'lesbian' both derive from Sappho of Lesbos. She wrote poems that are so intimate and honest that even in fragments, her understanding of enduring human emotion still resonates with readers in the modern-day
Our final ancient Poet is Zhuo Wenjun who lived in China during the Western Han Dynasty. Zhuo fell in love with the poet Sima Xiangru and eloped, much to the dismay of her family. When Sima started to value money over their relationship, Zhuo wrote one of her most famous poems ‘To a Faithless Husband’ which is also translated as "Blaming Husband Poem", "Song of the White Hair" and "White Hair Lament."
Zhuo’s poetry, like Sappho’s fragments and Enheduanna’s works, still resonates with readers today because of their timeless themes and the skill of these poets in touching others with their words.
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The music used in this recording is the intellectual copyright of Michael Levy, a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, and used with the creator's permission. Michael Levy's music is available to stream at all the major digital music platforms. Find out more on:
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Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
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Cite This Work
Encyclopedia, W. H. (2021, March 23). World Poetry Day: The Female Ancient Poets Sappho, Enheduanna and Zhuo Wenjun. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.worldhistory.org/video/2335/world-poetry-day-the-female-ancient-poets-sappho-e/
Encyclopedia, World History. "World Poetry Day: The Female Ancient Poets Sappho, Enheduanna and Zhuo Wenjun." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified March 23, 2021. https://www.worldhistory.org/video/2335/world-poetry-day-the-female-ancient-poets-sappho-e/.
Encyclopedia, World History. "World Poetry Day: The Female Ancient Poets Sappho, Enheduanna and Zhuo Wenjun." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 23 Mar 2021. Web. 18 Sep 2021.