The World's Oldest Recorded Drinking Song

Publication Year: 
2004

Nearly 4,000 years ago, a Sumerian poet put these words into the mouth of the goddes Inanna, who rules both heaven and earth and was as delighted as any mortal by the experience of drinking beer. Ninkasi was the goddess of beer. (I've omitted the poem's many repetitions.)

May Ninaksi live together with you!
Let her pour for you beer [and] wine,
Let [the pouring] of the sweet liquor resound pleasantly for you!
In the. . . reed buckets there is sweet beer,
I will make cupbearers, boys, [and] brewers stand by,
While I circle around the abundance of beer,
While I feel wonderful, I feel wonderful,
Drinking beer, in a blissful mood,
Drinking liquor, feeling exhilarated,
With joy in the heart [and] a happy liver-
While my heart full of joy,
[And][my] happy liver I cover with a garment fit for a queen!
The heart if Inanna is happy again,
The heart of the queen of heaven is happy again!
-Transl. Miguel Civil

pp. 714 On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee

Image retrieved from Ninkasi: “The Lady who fills the Mouth” on September 1st, 2014.

Sumeria, Mesopotamia, Ninkasi, beer, straw, vase, yeast
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