Djeser Djeseru


Djeser Djeseru

Dawn light and cliff glow

Bathe the stone walls and altar –

White, orpiment, and umber

Blend to gold. There are birds, birds

(How these birds exist is with their faces as people and their nature as birds,)*

Banking and turning above, like waves against the cliffs, but not touching, not crashing.

In a conscious flow they call through the dry rock cove – Living, living.

(One of them speaking to the other with the speech of crying.)

Crying like the Ba of Shu, a wind of souls,

They greet the shining sun who woke them

From dark caves beyond the mountain.

From lament to joy, their song cheers – healing, healing,

(After they come to eat plants and get nourished in the Black Land,)

As their waves subside. Dry rock silence replaces echoes of ancient voices

And they descend to lush fields below – birsim and sesame, cabbage and cane. Flying, flying,

(alighting under the brightness of the sky,)

To a broader light they move. Layers of newness subsume old thoughts

Across the flat rich land and canals.

The spectrum widens in greens and metal-shine,

With old rhythms still sounding, sounding –

(then they change into their nature of birds.)

In their separate hearts, now just people, now just birds,

Echoes linger of Gods they praised in Most Sacred of Sacred Places:

Blessing, blessing.


Djeser Djeseru is the Egyptian name of the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el Bahri. The Name is often translated as ‘Holy of Holies’. Here I translate as “Most Sacred of Sacred Places”, since Holy of Holies carries some confusing connotations from usage in other religious traditions. Djeser Djseru is the proper name of the Temple here. The central, most sacred shrine in a temple is usually called Per-Wer (pr-wr) ‘Great House’, or sometimes Set-Weret (s.t-wr.t) ‘Great Seat/Throne’.
*Red italic text in parentheses from an inscription in the Cenotaph of Seti I at Abydos. Translation by James P. Allen. Genesis in Egypt: The Philosophy of Ancient Egyptian Creation Accounts. Yale Egyptological Studies 2, 1988: 1.

© Matthew J. Whealton, May 2016

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