Sources. Egyptian love poems provide a rare view of human feelings in the ancient world. Four collections of love poems survive from ancient Egypt. They are known as Papyrus Chester Beatty I and Papyrus Harris 500 in the British Museum in London, Papyrus Turin 1966 in the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy, and Cairo Ostracon 2518 in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt. They all date to Dynasty 19 (1292–1190 b.c.e.) but might have been composed somewhat earlier.
Poetic Structure. Egyptian poetry did not have end rhyme or meter as does most English poetry written before the twentieth century. Instead, Egyptian poets organized verses into structures called couplets, triplets, and quatrains. A couplet has two related phrases, a triplet has three related phrases, and quatrains have four related phrases. The relationship between and among these phrases is a single thought expressed in variations either two, three, or four times. For example, a poem in Papyrus Chester Beatty I begins, “My love is one and only, without peer, / lovely above all Egypt’s lovely girls.” Here the poet expresses the same thought in two ways. The relationship might also use parallel grammatical structures in a poetic fashion. Presumably there was a definite pause after each couplet, triplet, or quatrain when the poem was recited.
Themes. The themes of Egyptian love poetry would be familiar to lovers of all time periods. They describe the beloved’s beauty, tricks used by both sexes to gain the attention of a desired lover, a plea to Hathor—goddess of love—to return a lost love, and the opposition of parents to a desired match.
John L. Foster, ed., Echoes of Egyptian Voices: An Anthology of Ancient Egyptian Poetry (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992).
Foster, ed., Love Songs of the New Kingdom (New York: Scribners, 1974).
Barbara Hughes Fowler, Love Lyrics of Ancient Egypt (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994).
Raymond A. McCoy, The Golden Goddess: Ancient Egyptian Love Lyrics, translated by McCoy (Menomonie, Wis.: Enchiridion Publications, 1972).
"Love Poems." World Eras. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 17, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/love-poems
"Love Poems." World Eras. . Retrieved November 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/love-poems
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.