Thursday, August 26, 2004

Osculetur me

I just came across this beautiful historiated initial opening the Song of Songs. Besides the initial, I found the gloss (The voice of the Church desiring the coming of Christ) interesting.

In some editions one sometimes sees attempts to divide the parts of the Song among different characters (apparently it goes back a long way). I wonder, however, if this isn't a bit misguided. Parts of the Song are clearly the man, parts the woman, but there is a sense in which it is all one voice. Are the Daughters of Jerusalem characters, or are they simply part of the poetic discourse? Is it intended to be a dialogue, or merely suggest it? It becomes difficult to say. Perhaps this is the point? What has always struck people about this book is the unitive character of the love it depicts; it is a Song of union, and this is why it lends itself so easily to mystical commentary.

My Beloved has gone down to his garden, to the terraces of spices, to feed in the gardens and to gather lilies.
I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine. He feeds among the lilies.
O my Love, you are as beautiful as Tirzah, as lovely as Jerusalem, awesome as bannered armies.
Turn away your eyes from me, because they have overcome me.

Update (29 August 2004): Claire at Time Travel is Easy has a post that points out this useful Song of Songs site.

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