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p. Chester Beatty Complete Song Cycle 3

The first two verses in this cycle are spoken by an onlooker urging the man to take action: after that the man ("brother") speaks one verse, the woman ("sister") two, and finally the man the last two.

The overall tone is humorous and overtly suggestive. The recurring metaphor portrays the woman's body as a house: many of the words for particular items are clear in general meaning but obscure in detail.


p. Chester Beatty Complete Song Cycle 3

The start of sweet sayings, found on a writing-table, by the scribe Nacht-Sobek of the necropolis

(The onlooker)    

So get along to the house of the sister,
you'll drift on down to her doorway,
she'll lift aloft her gate-latch,
dismissing it now she's the mistress.

Supply her with songs and the dance,
with wine and ale in the shade -
you'll unravel her reservation
and find fulfilment in her night.

So she'll sigh to you, “Let me into your arms -
at day-break we'll still be this way.

(The onlooker)    

So get along to the hallway of the sister -
    all alone, and noone beside you -
achieve your desire at her lintel
and the porches will sigh.

Let heaven come down with the breath that stirs,
bringing to you her fragrance:
that scent that floods and intoxicates
all who come into its presence.

The Lady of Gold proclaims her as your splendour
to grant you fulfilment of life.


No innocent tossing a noose, this sister -
        though not born to the stable master -

a toss of the noose comes for me with her hair,
    as if to gather me in with her eyes,
    as if to subjugate me with her thighs,
        her brand at hand to seal me.


While you whisper deep in yourself,
If I look after her, it's me that she'll embrace”,
by He who is Hidden, it's me who comes for you,
this tunic of mine off my shoulder.


I discovered my brother, my love at the brook
        with his feet dabbled down in the channel:
he offered the night like a chamber awaiting,
        drawn up as a couch for my limbs,
and brings skin touching skin to hold fast to my body
        uniting his high ground and chalice.


This that she did to me, this sister,
Will I ever keep quiet about it?

She made me stand outside her house
so she could slip back inside:
but no word to me, “Come in for delight”,
so frustration for me in the night.


I approached her house in the gloom,
knocked but no opening for me.

The night may be fine for our door-ward,
    Bolt, I'm coming to open you up,
    Door, within you is my destiny,
        in you a strong spirit is mine.

They'll sacrifice our ox indoors,
O Door, release your strength:
sacrifice an ox for the Bolt
    a cow for the Threshold
    fat goose for the Frame
    and a grebe for the Key.

But all the best cuts of the ox
will go to the craftsman's apprentice:
he'll make for us a Bolt of reeds,
a Door of woven leaves,
so now the brother, whenever he comes,
    will find her house all open,
    will find a bed all sheeted with linen,
        the princess of beauty within them.

She'll whisper to me, this princess, “This palace
belongs to the city lord's son!