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Poetic Baby Names for Girls: Ancient to modern inspiration

April 25, 2016 Linda Rosenkrantz

By Linda Rosenkrantz

April is National Poetry Month—and before it comes to an end, we have to acknowledge the rich reserve of poetic namesake names that just keeps on giving.

We’ve talked before about the fact that —whether by destiny or serendipity—some of our most famous poets happen to have eminently usable surnames, from Auden to Cullen to Dove to Frost to Lorca to Tennyson to Wylie. But today we’d like to dig a bit deeper and take a wider international and historic perspective. So here are some of the more unusual and exotic female poets’ first names we’ve discovered, ranging from ancient Greek to contemporary Australian.

Akka Mahadevi, often called simply Akka, eminent 12th century Indian poet who lived the life of a wandering poet-saint. The term Akka, which means ‘elder sister’ was an honorific bestowed on her.

Antigone Kefala—a modern Australian poet of Greek-Romanian heritage; Antigone was the legendary daughter of Oedipus immortalized in the Sophocles play.

Aphra Behn was not only a British Restoration era poet but an influential playwright and fiction writer, considered one of the first English-speaking women to earn a living by her writing.

Berlie Doherty— versatile English poet, playwright and novelist

Cai Wenji–a very early Chinese poet and composer

Eavan Aisling Boland is a contemporary Irish poet and literary critic whose verse explores women’s issues. Eavan (EE-van) is the Anglicization of Aoibheann, the name of several ancient Irish princesses

Charlotta Löfgren and Öberg—two Swedish poets of the 19th and 18th centuries who share a name that’s an interesting cross between Charlotte and Carlotta

Dulce Maria Loynaz—a Cuban poet and novelist of the 20th century; Dulce, of course, means sweet

Elvia Ardalani—a Mexican poet who now teaches in Texas

Florbela Espanca–Portuguese poet born in 1894—you might want to add another L to this ‘beautiful flower’ name

Giannina Braschi—a contemporary Puerto Rican poet/novelist who chronicles the Latin American immigrant experience

Kassiaa 9th century Byzantine poet and composer

Lale Müldür is an influential, eccentric Turkish poet; Lale means tulip in Turkish.

Lucrezia Tornabuoni—poet, political advisor and mother of the powerful Lorenzo de’ Medici

Marine Petrossian—a contemporary Armenian poet and essayist; Marine is currently popular in France

Meera, also called Mira Bai or Mirabai, who was a 16th century Hindu mystical poet

Nandini Sahu, a contemporary Indian poet

Nettie Palmer—an Australian poet and critic, born in 1885; Nettie is a nickname name (for any name ending in ette or etta that was in the Top 100 at the turn of the last century

Praxilla of Sicyon—a Greek lyric poet of the fifth century BC

Salomé Ureña de Henríquez—a 19th century poet from the Dominican Republic

Samina Raja—a Pakistani poet, translator and broadcaster—and another path to the nickname Sam

Sarojini Naidu—a well known Indian poet born in 1879, an advocate for women’s rights and follower of Gandhi

Sheema Kalbasi,– a modern Iranian poet and human rights advocate

Silvina Ocampo—a noted Argentinian poet of the 20th century

Tanith Lee—a British poet as well as a science fiction writer; Tanith was the name of the Phoenician goddess of love, the moon and the stars

Vendela Skytte– a 17th century Swedish noblewoman who became a learned scholar and poet; Vendela is a Scandinavian name currently represented by novelist Vendela Vida.

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