Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Solomon's Song of Songs

Solomon's Song of Songs

The Song of Solomon is one of the shortest books of the Old Testament, but it is a very beautiful and sacred text.  It is sometimes called The Song of Songs, or The Canticle of Canticles.

Many traditional Christians believe that The Song of Solomon is about Christ's love for his church, but to me that is a cop out.  No matter what translation you read it in, to me, it is clearly the colloquy of a woman of dark skin and a man who are very much in love, attracted to one another and about to be married.  

 Chapter 1.

Oh, give me the kisses of your mouth,
For your sweet loving is better than wine,

Your juices are fragrant,
Your essence pours out like oil,
This is why all the young women want you.

Take me with you, let us run together!

The King has brought me to his chambers.
Let us delight and rejoice in your love,
Enjoying each caress more than wine,
They are right to love you so.

I am dark and beautiful, Oh Daughters of Jerusalem
Dark as the tents of Kedar, lavish as Solomon's tapestries,
Do not see me only as dark,
for the sun has stared at me,
My brothers quarreled with me,
They made me guard the vineyards.
I have not guarded my own.

Tell me my only love,
Where do you pasture your sheep,
Where do you rest them in the heat of noon?
Why should I wander among the flocks of your companions?
Loveliest of women,
If you wander,
Follow in the tracks of the sheep,
Graze your goats in the shadow of the shepherd¹s tents,

I see you, my love, as a mare,
Among Pharoah's chariots.

Your cheeks as beautiful as jewels
Your throat encircled with beads
I will make you golden earrings studded with silver.

When the King lay down beside me,
My perfume gave forth its sweetness,
All night my beloved sleeps between my breasts,
A cluster of myrrh,
A spray of henna blossoms,
from the vineyards of Ein Gedi.
How beautiful you are my friend,
Your eyes are doves.

And how beautiful you are, my beloved,
and how gentle,
Wherever we lie, our bed is green,
Our roofbeams are cedar, our rafters, fir.

Chapter 2.

I am the rose of Sharon
A lily of the valleys.
Like a lily among the thorns,
So is my beloved among the young women.

And my beloved among the young men is
Like an apple tree among the trees of the wood.
In that shade I delight to sit
Tasting his sweet fruit.

He brought me to the tavern,
And his banner over me is Love.

Cover me with blossoms,
Refresh me with apples
For I am in the fever of Love.

His left hand beneath my head,
His right arm embracing me,

Daughters of Jerusalem, swear to me
By the gazelles, by the deer in the field,
that you will not awaken Love until it is ripe.

The voice of my beloved: Here it comes!
Leaping over the mountains, skipping across the hills

My love is like a gazelle, a wild stag
He stands there on the other side of our wall, gazing
Through the windows, peering through the lattice

My beloved calls to me:
Arise my friend, oh beautiful one,
Go to yourself...

For now the winter is past,
The rains are over and gone,
Blossoms appear in the fields,
The time for singing has come.
The sound of the turtledove
Echoes throughout the land.

The fig tree is ripening
Its new green fruit,
And the budded vines give of their fragrance,
Arise my friend, oh beautiful one,
Go to yourself...

My dove in the clefts of the rocks
Hidden by the cliff
Let me see who you are,
Let me hear your voice,
Your sweet voice,
Your radiant face.

Catch us the foxes,
The little foxes that raid our vineyard
Just when the vines are in bloom.
My beloved is mine and I am his.
He pastures among the lilies.
Before the day blows on,
And the shadows flee,
Turn away, my love,
And be like a gazelle, a wild stag
On the jagged mountains.

Chapter 3.
In my bed all night I long
For the one that my soul loves,
I seek him but do not find him.
I rise and roam the city,
Through the streets and through the squares
I search for the one that my soul loves
I seek him everywhere but do not find him.

Then the watchmen who circle the city find me.
"Have you seen him? Have you seen the beloved of my soul?"

Scarcely had they passed when I found my soul's beloved,
I held him, I would not let him go
Until I brought him to my mother's house
Into the place where I had been conceived.

Daughters of Jerusalem, swear to me
By the gazelles, by the deer in the field,
that you will not awaken love until it is ripe.

Who is that rising from the wilderness,
Like a pillar of smoke,
Fragrant with myrrh and frankincense
From the powders of the merchant?
Here is Solomon's bed,
Surrounded by sixty warriors,
The heroes of Israel,
Each of them skilled in battle,
Each with a sword on his thigh
Against the terror of night.

King Solomon built a pavilion
From the cedars of Lebanon,
He made its columns of silver,
Its cushions of gold,
Its couches of purple linen,
And the daughters of Jerusalem
inlaid it with love.

Oh daughters of Zion,
Come out and gaze upon King Solomon
with the crown his mother gave him
on his wedding day,
the day of his heart's rejoicing.

Chapter 4.

How beautiful you are, my friend,
How beautiful!
Your eyes are doves behind the thicket of your hair,

Your hair
Like a flock of goats
Trailing down Mount Gilead.

Your teeth like a flock of ewes
That come up white from washing,
All of them alike, all shining and present.

Your lips like a scarlet ribbon
And your voice so sweet.

The curve of your cheek
like a pomegranate
hidden behind the thicket of your hair,

Your neck is a tower of David
Built to perfection,
A thousand shields hang upon it,
All the armor of heroes.

Your breasts are two fawns, Twins of a gazelle,
Pasturing among the lilies.

Before the day blows on
And the shadows flee,
I will go myself to the mountain of Myrrh,
To the hill of frankincense.

You are all-beautiful, my friend,
There is no blemish in you.

Oh come with me my bride,
Come down from Lebanon
Down from the peaks of Amana

Down from Senir and Hermon,
From the mountains of the leopards,
The lion's den.

You have ravished my heart,
my sister, my bride,
You have ravished my heart with one glance of your eyes,
With one bead of your necklace.

How sweet is your loving,
My sister, my bride,
How much better than wine!
Your oils, more fragrant than any spice.

Your lips, my bride, drip honey,
Honey and milk are under your tongue,
And your clothes hold the scent of Lebanon.

An enclosed garden is my sister, my bride
A hidden fountain, a sealed spring.
Your watered fields are an orchard of pomegranate trees
laden with delicious fruit,
flowering henna and spikenard,
spikenard and saffron, cane and cinnamon,
with every tree of frankincense,
myrrh and aloes,
all the finest perfumes.

You are a garden spring,
A well of living waters
That flow from Lebanon.
Awake north wind! Oh South wind, come!
Blow upon my garden
and let its spices stream out.
Let my lover come into his garden
And taste its luscious fruit.

  Chapter 5.

I have come into my garden,
My sister, my bride,
I have gathered my myrrh and my spices,
I have eaten from my honeycomb,
I have drunk my wine and my milk.

Feast, friends, and drink till you are drunk with love!

I was asleep but my heart stayed awake.
There it is... the sound of my lover knocking:
Open to me, my sister, my friend,
My dove, my perfect one!
My head is wet with dew,
My hair drenched in the damp of night.
But I have taken off my robes,
How can I dress again?
I have bathed my feet,
Must I dirty them?

My love reached in for the latch
And deep within me, my heart stirred.

I rose to open to my love
My hands dripping myrrh
My fingers flowing myrrh
On the doorbolt.

I opened to my love,
But he had turned away and was gone.
My soul fled when he spoke.

I looked for him, but could not find him,
I called, but he did not answer,

Then the watchmen who circle the city
Found me,
They beat me, they bruised me
The watchmen of the walls
tore the shawl from my shoulders.

Swear to me, daughters of Jerusalem
If you find my beloved,
You must tell him
That I am in the fever of Love.

How is your lover unique
Oh most beautiful of women?
How is your lover unique
That we must swear to you?

My beloved is radiant and earthy
He towers above ten thousand.
His head is burnished gold,
The wave of his hair
Shiny black as the raven,

His eyes like doves
By the flowing rivers
of milk and plenty.
His cheeks are a bed of spices,
Treasures of sweet perfume,
His lips red lilies
Wet with myrrh.

His hands are rods of gold,
Studded with topaz,
His body is polished ivory,
Inlaid with sapphire,
His thighs are marble pillars
On pedestals of gold.
Majestic as Lebanon,
A man like a cedar!

His mouth is luscious,
He is all delight.

This is my beloved
And this is my friend
Oh daughters of Jerusalem.

Chapter 6.

Where has your lover gone,
Oh most beautiful of women?
Where has your beloved turned?
and we will seek him with you.
My love has gone down to his garden,
To the beds of spices,
To graze and to gather lilies.

I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine,
He pastures among the lilies.
My friend, you are as beautiful as Tirzah,
Majestic as Jerusalem,
Daunting as the stars in the sky,

Turn your eyes away,
For they dazzle me.

Your hair
Like a flock of goats
Trailing down Mount Gilead.

Your teeth like a flock of ewes
That come up white from washing,
All of them alike, all shining and present.

The curve of your cheek
like a pomegranate
hidden behind the thicket of your hair,

There are sixty queens,
And eighty concubines,
And young maidens beyond number.

One alone is my dove, my perfect one,
One alone so luminous in her mother's heart.

Every maiden delights in her,
Queens and concubines praise her:

"Who is that rising like the morning star?
Clear as the moon, bright as the sun,
Daunting as the stars in the sky."
I went down to the nut grove,
To see the new green by the brook,
To see if the vines had blossomed
And the pomegranates had bloomed,

And oh, before I knew it,
She sat me down in the most noble of chariots. 

 Chapter 7.

Turn and return, Oh Shulamit,
Turn and return that we may gaze upon you!

Why do you gaze upon the Shulamit
As she dances through the camp?
How graceful your steps in those sandals,
Oh nobleman's daughter,

The curves of your thigh are like jewels
Shaped by a master craftsmen,

Your navel is the moon's goblet,
Ever filled with wine,

Your belly is a mound of wheat,
Fringed with lilies,
Your breasts are two fawns,
Twins of a gazelle.

Your neck is a tower of ivory,
Your eyes are pools in Heshbon,
By the gates of Bat-Rabbim,

Your nose, like a tower of Lebanon
That turns towards Damascus,

Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel,
And the hair of your head is like royal purple,
A king is held captive in its tresses,

How beautiful and how sweet is Love
In all its pleasures!

Your stature seemed tall as a palm tree,
And your breasts, the clusters of its fruit.

I said, "Let me climb into that palm tree,
And take hold of its branches."

May your breasts be like clusters
Of grapes on a vine,
The fragrance of your breath
Like apples,
And your mouth, like the best wine.

Let it flow smoothly to my beloved,
Gliding between sleepy lips,

I am my beloved's
And his longing is for me,
Only for me.

Come, my beloved,
Let us go out to the field
And lie all night among the flowering henna,

Let us go early to the vineyards
To see if the vine has budded,
If the blossoms have opened,
And the pomegranates are in bloom,

There I will give you my love.

The mandrakes yield their fragrance
And at our doors are all kinds of precious fruits,
Both newly picked and long-stored,
I have hidden them away for you.

Chapter 8.
Oh that you were my brother,
And had nursed at my mother's breast!
I would kiss you in the streets
And no one would scorn me.

I would bring you to my mother's house,
And she would teach me,
I would give you spiced wine to drink,
My pomegranate wine.

His left hand beneath my head,
His right arm embracing me,

Daughters of Jerusalem swear to me
That you will not awaken love
Until it is ripe.

Who is that rising from the wilderness
Leaning upon her beloved?

I awakened you beneath the apple tree,
In that same place where your mother
Conceived and gave you life.

Set me as a seal upon your heart,
A sign upon your arm,
For Love is as strong as Death
Its passion is as harsh as the grave,
Its sparks become a raging fire,
A Divine Flame.

Great seas cannot extinguish love
No river can wash it away,

If a man tried to buy Love
With all the wealth of his house,
He would only be scorned.

We have a young sister
And she has no breasts,
What shall we do for our sister,
When she is courted?

If she is a wall, we will build
A silver turret upon her,
If she is a door, we will bolt her
With beams of cedar.

I am a wall
And my breasts are towers,
But for my lover, I will be
A city of Peace.

Solomon had a vineyard
In Baal-Hamon,
He gave that vineyard to watchmen,
anyone would give a thousand pieces of silver,
for its fruit.

I have my very own vineyard,
So keep your thousands, Solomon,
And pay two hundred to those
Who must guard your fruit.

Oh woman in the garden,
All our friends listen for your voice,
Let me hear it now!

Hurry, my beloved,
Be my gazelle, my young stag
On the mountain of spices.



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