Classroom wandering

See how my heart runs off, stealing away!
      It flies to a spot it knows,
Going upstream to see Memphis, House of the Spirit of Ptah—
      and I wish I were with it!
But I sit here expecting my heart back
      so it can tell me how it is in Memphis.
No work can be done by my hand.
      my mind cannot concentrate.
O come to me, Ptah, to carry me off to Memphis!
      Let me look about unhindered!
I would spend the day properly
      but my heart is listless;
My mind will not stay in my body,
      and misery seizes all of my limbs!
My eye is exhausted with staring,
      my ear, it will not be filled,
            my voice is hoarse and words become tumbled.
O my Lord, be at peace with me!
      Help me to rise above all these things!

Prayer to Ptah “Longing for Memphis.” From some scribal school exercises in Papyrus Anastasi IV, circa 1279 BC. Translation by John Foster, Hymns, Prayers, and Songs: An Anthology of Ancient Egyptian Lyric Poetry, from the excellent Society of Biblical Literature Series Writings from the Ancient World.

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