Inanna - Lady of Largest Heart

     At the core of the book Inanna - Lady of Largest Heart, published in 2000, are Betty Meador’s translations of three long poems attributed to the Sumerian High Priestess Enheduanna, written to and for her personal deity Inanna. The first, “Inanna and Ebeh,” relates a story of Inanna’s  struggle with a mythical mountain, Ebeh. The mountain refuses to bow to Inanna. Enraged, the goddess summarily destroys the mountain with storms, arrows, daggers, fires, stones, snakes, and finally her “green-wilting curse.” With her victory Inanna triumphs over the great god of heaven An, who out of fear, had refused to help Inanna in the battle.

     The second poem, “Lady of Largest Heart, ”weaves together a series of laudutory tributes to Inanna, praise for her matchless powers and her blood-thirsty capacity for revenge. Among these elements Enheduanna includes a description of the “head-overturning” ritual in which Inanna changes woman into man, man into woman. Another section coalesces around the phrase “are yours, Inanna,” in which the poet enumerates Inanna's awesome and unique dominion. After pages of praise, fear, and adoration, Enheduanna speaks as herself. “I / I am Enheduanna,” she says, and cries out for Inanna’s mercy. “I am yours / why do you slay me?” We hear the poets voice and ascertain her mission: “You allow my flesh / to know your scouraging.” “Return your heart to me,” she begs. We hear the first historical instance of an individual subjective voice, a woman speaking out of her suffering, poignantly pleading to her goddess.

     The third poem, “The Exaltation of Inanna,” is notable as the first historical autobiographical text by a known individual. Enheduanna describes a dramatic encounter with a priest or general in which she is thrown out of her temple. She suffers violence and humiliation at his hands. She cries out to Inanna, “I am dying / that I must sing / this sacred song.” She begs Inanna to come to her rescue. In the end she returns triumphant to her temple home, praising Inanna, exalted Lady,  “wrapped in beauty.”

     The poems in the book are introduced with a description of the historical setting into which Enheduanna was born. One chapter reports Leonard Woolley’s 1920s discovery of Enheduanna’s dedicatory plaque during his archeological exploration of ancient Ur. Another provides a chronicle of ancient cultures that led up to that of the Sumerians.           

     Inanna - Lady of Largest Heart has been translated into Spanish as Tres grandes poemas de Enjeduana dedicates a Inanna, Universidad Autonomy de la Ciuudad de Mexico, 2009, and into Italian as Inanna - Signora dal Cuore Immense, Venexia, 2009.

Inanna, Lady of Largest Heart
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