REH Word of the Week: sistrum Essay

A Roman statue of Isis holding a sistrumnoun1. A percussion instrument of ancient Egypt, Sumeria and Rome consisting of metal rods or loops attached to a metal frame.

[origin: Middle English, from Latin sistrum, from Greek seistron, from seiein, to shake]HOWARD’S USAGE:Mylitta’s girdle stolenFrom Punic lecterns high,A golden fruit from AtlasWho once upheld the sky.Astarte’s silver sistrem [sic]Fair Ishtar’s virgin zone,Priapus’ phallic signet,A gem from pharaoh’s throneA verse from Capri’s islandUpon a shield of goldOnce decked Troy’s campanilesBy Sappho’s hand enscrolled.[from “The Road to Babel”; to read the complete poem, see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard, p. 305 and Shadows of Dreams, p. 67]

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