With this link to an excellent documentary about what happened after the deaths of Anthony and Cleopatra, I’m going to open a post I shall return to on Nubia. It was thus I was introduced to Queen Amanisha. There are many variants to her name.
I have her by another name in this poem. Warrior Queens are more common than is usually supposed. We have Boadicea and Elizabeth. And then there was Queen Hind. Such a lovely name. She was patron of the twelve great odes of pre-Islamic Arabic poetry, back in the time that worshippers of the prophet came later to call the time of “The Ignorance”.
“Whereof one cannot speak..”
Back in the day when ignorance was bliss,
When Zenobia ruled Palmyra, or when Mavia led
Her bitches into battle, riding at the standard of a horde
Into Palestine – to trounce the Roman legions there,
Or when Hind was regent of Lakham, and ordered that each ode
Be hung up in the open air… Araby was certainly
A land of milk and honey, but, it must be said, tough to govern.
Thus it was that one man spoke through his God,
And profiting from prophecy, he justified his rule
And so abolished ignorance and with it all the bliss.
This is how we come to teach that any of the female sex
Who scents herself and goes abroad is definitely
Cursed and beyond the pale of the Almighty
Pending her return contrite to bend beneath the strap.
Let her keep her eyes in chaste abeyance, while the man
Who wants her for his own may look at her full in the face
And even from behind. Understanding will prevail
And the male be glad to know that women are his fields,
Into which he may go as he pleases. God has made him
Superior, and just as he acknowledges the orders of some fat vizir,
Just as that visir obeys the caliph’s vagaries, testes
Override ovaries: chattels must obey and need to guard
Their lower parts. We expect our wives to turn their eyes
Away from temptation, cover up their udders,
Hide their heads and never appear made-up, except
Before their fathers, husbands, husband’s fathers, sons, step-sons
And brothers, nor are they to stamp their feet in walking
Lest they should admit to the existence of their trinkets.
Let them remain without education, licences to drive and
Individual passports. Suffer them to stay in the home,
Be discreet in views they voice, and not display
Their finery, as were they wont to, back in the day,
Since their subjugation is what keeps men in their place.
(Published in my 2017 collection From Inside – High Window Press)
The warrior queens of Kush were famous for the gold they wore. And they were large women and no man was going to push them around!
I am also intrigued by that dynasty of Nubian Pharoahs earlier, but don’t know much about them yet. So, I’ll keep this post updating as I discover more.
Hapi is the Egyptian god of the Nile. And if you want more on the Nile and the Nubians and the Sudan and the Kingdom of Kush, see also Whatever happened to Hapi?
And click this link if you want to know why the marvelous pyramids of Nubia are in ruins.
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