Is there one god who can vie with me?

My fondness for Mr. Bowman’s voice as well as the appreciation of Mr. Nyman’s works in general led me to buying this CD — quite a while ago.

The title is an excerpt, and referred to the Kosovo War, if I remember correctly. “Time will pronounce a sentence …”

Well yes, there are things only time will finally pronounce a sentence over, and the mysterious title along with the promise of “Bowman Inside” attracted me.

I instantly fell in love with the catchy tune called

“Self-Laudatory Hymn of Inanna and her Omnipotence.”

I even ordered the sheet music — a bit of a bugger to get hold of it; it is somewhere very safe at my parent’s house nowadays. (“Very safe” meaning I haven’t got the faintest clue right at the moment where that might be.)

Inanna is the Queen of Heaven in the Sumerian tradition. She’s the goddess of love — rather, the goddess of lust; she doesn’t care much about marriage, it is …

She is also associated with war; battles are referred to as the “Dance of Innana”. You get a picture.

So, may I introduce you to Inanna:

Inanna, on a nice day.

Now — *cough: This is James Bowman. (I was unable to find a picture where he is showing off his muscly legs like she does.)

Or rather, well, when Mr. Nyman approached him with the idea to sing this aria, he was dressed more modestly, presumably, something closer to …

Bowman didn’t only record the piece; he performed it live as well. Very brave, isn’t it? It takes guts to stand before an audience and state, “I, the queen of heaven am I !!” Actually, one exclamation mark would do, or none. Inanna is the model of self-assurednes, and Nyman’s almost crude melodic twists reflect that. She isn’t boasting, she is merely stating the facts. She is everything and anything.  She gives life or destroys it at will. Oh, and there’s another thing that she can do at will: She can appear in female or in male form, just as she prefers to be seen.

Michael Nyman wrote the piece specifically for James Bowman, if I remember correctly. That Bowman was most probably flattered rather than offended — derived from the fact that he sang it — tells a great deal about him, I find. Imagine… “I am writing a song about the Sumerian goddess Inanna. You know, sex and destruction — I instantly had to think of you!”

I’d love to hear Mr. Jaroussky perform the piece. It is complex, it is deep, and very unusual in every way.

Self-laudatory hymn of Inanna and her omnipotence

Music: Michael Nyman

from Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 
trans. S.N. Kramar, ed. James B. Pritchard

(3rd edition with supplement: Princeton University Press, 1969)

My father gave me heaven, gave me earth,
I, the queen of heaven am !!
Is there one god who can vie with me?
Enlil gave me heaven, gave me earth,
I, the queen of heaven am !!

He has given me lordship,
He has given me queenship,
He has given me battle, given me combat,
And he gave me flood and tempest.
He has placed heaven as a crown,
He has tied the earth as a sandal,
He has fastened the holy me-garment about my body.

The gods are my vassals: I, a queen am I,
The Anunna scurry about, I, a life-giving wild cow am I,
The life-giving wild cow of Father Enlil am I,
His life-giving wild cow that walks at the head.
When I enter the Ekur, the house of Enlil,
The gatekeeper puts not his hand against my breast,
The vizier says not to me, ‘Stop!’

Heaven is mine, earth is mine,
In Erech, the Eanna is mine,
In Zabalom, the Giguna is mine,
In Nippur, the Duranki is mine,
In Ur, the Edilman is mine,
In Girsu, the Eshdam is mine,
In Adab, the Eshara is mine,
In Kish, the Hursag Kalam is mine,
In Dev, the Amashkuga is mine,
In Akshak, the Anzaka is mine,
In Agada, the Ulmash is mine.

Is there one god who can vie with me?



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