These poems are taken from Hatshepsut, Speak to Me by Ruth Whitman [Wayne SU Press, Detroit: 1992]
Hatshepsut, seated, as female


When I was six

my father Thutmose the First  

lifted me up to sit beside him  

on his throne of Amen.  

He said, Flower of Egypt,  

you will be a ruler.

He took me with him on his royal barge  

down the Nile to Memphis, to Sakkara,  

to Giza, to see my kingdom.

He said to the farmers and nobles  

crowding the water steps

This is my goddess daughter Hatshepsut  

who will be crowned with the crown  

of Upper and Lower Egypt

when she becomes a woman.

I knew that Amen-Re, Lord of Thebes, 

King of Karnak, took my father's form 

and came down to my mother, Ahmose, 

as she slept in the beauty of her palace. 

She woke at the fragrance of the god 

and rejoiced at the sight of his beauty, 

and he went into her and his love 

came into her body. And my mother said 

How wonderful to see you face to face, 

your dew is in all my limbs.

And Amen, Lord of the Two Lands, said to her, 

Khnumit-Amon-Hatshepsut is the name of the daughter 

I have planted in your body. She shall be king

in this whole land. My soul is hers,

my crown is hers.


Khnum the Potter 

father of fathers 

mother of mothers 

molded my body 

out of clay

out of spirit he

made another me 

my ka to stay

on earth when I die: 

she'll slip away, 

unhindered, free, 

while ba the bird 

wing of my soul 

will fly from my tomb 

back to the sky


Before my father came to the throne  

there was chaos in our double kingdom- 

from the Great Green Sea on the north  

to the land of Nubia on our south.

Men without breasts love war.  

They measure their height

by the mountains of severed hands  

piled up, cut from their enemies.

But I saw our land laid out in peace:  

Thebes, the southern city, the horizon of earth  

stretching east to west

and the fecund river cleaving the land

south to north.  

Sun and moon

sail from east to west

across the Nile,

from life to death

and back again.

Symmetry. Order.  

The Nile

floods, recedes, floods.

And over us stretches Nut, 

the goddess who is the sky. 

The sun travels by night 

through her body,

the moon and stars by day. 

Her toes touch the east,

her fingers reach to the west, 

she arches over us,

rainbow mother of night and day.

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Hatshepsut, seated, as male