Saturday, July 14, 2012

Poetry - 4

The next offering stays with the King James Bible.  This time it is the Song of Songs:

1 The song of songs, which is Solomon's.
2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.
3 Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.
4 Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.
5 I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.
6 Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.
7 Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?
8 If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents.
9 I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots.
10 Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.
11 We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.
12 While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.
13 A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.
14 My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.
15 Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes.
16 Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green.
17 The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.

This doesn't do much for me.  I can see that the language is poetic, but it doesn't touch me.  Perhaps it is because the metaphors have simply drifted too far in the last 2500 years.  If I told my wife she is fair because she has 'doves' eyes', I don't think she'd feel all that complimented.  It could have been a real hit back in its day though. 
According to Wikipedia, there are a number of acceptable interpretations as to authorship and intended audience.  I don't doubt it.  The first half certainly describes an uneven relationship, like a subject to a king or perhaps a king to God.  That could change the interpretation of the fifth and sixth verse from something racial to a poetic reading of 'sinful'.  I don't remember it ever being taught in church.

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