Meditation Mondays: Appreciating the Power of the Sun

The Hymn to the Aten

You rise in perfection on the horizon of the sky, living Aten, who started life.
Whenever you are risen upon the eastern horizon you fill every land with your perfection.
You are appealing, great, sparkling, high over every land; your rays hold together the lands as far as everything you have made.

Since you are Re [Ra], you reach as far as they do, and you curb them for you beloved son.
Although you are far away, your rays are upon the land; you are in their faces, yet your departure is not observed.

Whenever you set on the western horizon, the land is in darkness in the manner of death.
They sleep in a bedroom with heads under the covers, and one eye does not see another.
If all their possessions which are under their heads were stolen, they would not know it.

Every lion who comes out of his cave and all the serpents bite, for darkness is a blanket.
The land is silent now, because he who made them is at rest on his horizon.

But when day breaks you are risen upon the horizon, and you shine as the Aten in the daytime.
When you dispel darkness and you give forth your rays the two lands are in festival, alert and standing on their feet, now that you have raised them up.

Their bodies are clean, / and their clothes have been put on; their arms are [lifted] in praise at your rising.

The entire land performs its work; all the cattle are content with their fodder, trees and plants grow, birds fly up to their nests, their wings [extended] in praise for your Ka.
All the kine prance on their feet; everything which flies up and alights, they live when you have risen for  them.
The barges sail upstream and downstream too, for every way is open at your rising.
The fishes in the river leap before your face when your rays are in the sea.

You who have placed seed in woman and have made sperm into man, who feeds the son in the womb of his mother, who quiets him wiith something to stop his crying; you are the nurse in the womb, giving breath to nourish all that has been begotten.
When he comes down from the womb to breathe on the day he is born, you open up his mouth completely, and supply his needs.
When the fledgling in the egg speaks in the shell, you give him air inside it to sustain him.
When you grant him his allotted time to break out from the egg, he comes out from the egg to cry out at his fulfillment, and he goes upon his legs when he has come forth from it.

How plentiful it is, what you have made, although they are hidden from view, sole god, without another beside you; you created the earth as you wished, when you were by yourself, [before] mankind, all cattle and kine, all beings on land, who fare upon their feet, and all beings in the air, who fly with their wings.

The lands of Khor and Kush and the land of Egypt: you have set every man in his place, you have allotted their needs, every one of them according to his diet, and his lifetime is counted out.
Tongues are separate in speech, and their characters / as well; their skins are different, for you have differentiated the foreigners.
In the underworld you have made a Nile that you may bring it forth as you wish to feed the populace, since you made them for yourself, their utter master, growing weary on their account, lord of every land.
For them the Aten of the daytime arises, great in awesomeness.

All distant lands, you have made them live, for you have set a Nile in the sky that it may descend for them and make waves upon the mountains like the sea to irrigate the fields in their towns.
How efficient are your designs, Lord of eternity: a Nile in the sky for the foreigners and all creatures that go upon their feet, a Nile coming back from the underworld for Egypt.

Your rays give suck to every field: when you rise they live, and they grow for you.
You have made the seasons to bring into being all you have made: the Winter to cool them, the Heat that you may be felt.

You have made a far-off heaven in which to rise in order to observe everything you have made.
Yet you are alone, rising in your manifestations as the Living Aten: appearing, glistening, being afar, coming close; you make millions of transformations of yourself.
Towns, harbors, fields, roads, waterways: every eye beholds you upon them, for you are the Aten of the daytime on the face of the earth.

When you go forth every eye [is upon you].
You have created their sight but not to see (only) the body . . . which you have made.

You are my desire, and there is no other who knows you except for your son (Nefer-kheperu-Re Wa-en-Re), for you have apprised him of your designs and your power.
The earth came forth into existence by your hand, and you made it.
When you rise, they live; when you set, they die.
You are a lifespan in yourself; one lives by you.

Eyes are / upon your perfection until you set: all work is put down when you rest in the west.
When (you) rise, (everything) grows for the King and (for) everyone who hastens on foot, because you have founded the land and you have raised them for your son who has come forth from your body, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, the one Living on Maat, Lord of the Two Lands (Nefer-kheperu-Re Wa-en-Re), son of Re, the one Living on Maat, Master of Regalia, (Akhenaten), the long lived, and the Foremost Wife of the King, whom he loves, the Mistress of the Two Lands (Nefer-nefru-Aten Nefertiti), living and young, forever and ever.


Translation Source: The Literature of Ancient Egypt: An Anthology of Stories, Instructions, and Poetry (translations by R. O. Faulkner, Edward F. Wente, Jr., and William Kelly Simpson). New Haven, Connecticut and London, England: Yale University Press, 1973 (currently out of print).

Image: Relief of Akhenaten, Nefertiti and two daughters adoring the Aten. 18th dynasty, reign of Akhenaten, Tel-el-Amarna (public domain).

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