The Old Testament is one racy tome, full of love, lust, rape, incest, murder, and — perhaps worst of all — masturbation (known then as Onanism). If you can make it through all the repetitive and contradictory proscriptions, unscientific explanations, and general millennia-old nonsense, you’ll be rewarded a little more than midway through with the Song of Solomon, or Song of Songs, as it’s also known — an ode to romantic love which Puritans jumped through hoops to interpret as an allegory of the mutual love between Christ and his Church, or perhaps between God and humankind. Yeah, that’s the ticket. A word of caution regarding the below excerpt: comparing your own lover’s silken hair to a flock of goats, or their breasts to twin fawns, may not have the seductive result you’re hoping for in the 21st century.
Solomon Admires His Bride’s Beauty
Behold, you are beautiful, my love,
behold, you are beautiful!
Your eyes are doves
behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
leaping down the slopes of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
that have come up from the washing,
all of which bear twins,
and not one among them has lost its young.
Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
behind your veil.
Your neck is like the tower of David,
built in rows of stone;a
on it hang a thousand shields,
all of them shields of warriors.
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle,
that graze among the lilies.
Until the day breathes
and the shadows flee,
I will go away to the mountain of myrrh
and the hill of frankincense.
You are altogether beautiful, my love;
there is no flaw in you.
Come with me from Lebanon, my bride;
come with me from Lebanon.
Depart from the peak of Amana,
from the peak of Senir and Hermon,
from the dens of lions,
from the mountains of leopards.
You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much better is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your oils than any spice!
Your lips drip nectar, my bride;
honey and milk are under your tongue;
the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
A garden locked is my sister, my bride,
a spring locked, a fountain sealed.
Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates
with all choicest fruits,
henna with nard,
nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon,
with all trees of frankincense,
myrrh and aloes,
with all choice spices—
a garden fountain, a well of living water,
and flowing streams from Lebanon.
Awake, O north wind,
and come, O south wind!
Blow upon my garden,
let its spices flow.
Together in the Garden of Love
Let my beloved come to his garden,
and eat its choicest fruits.
I came to my garden, my sister, my bride,
I gathered my myrrh with my spice,
I ate my honeycomb with my honey,
I drank my wine with my milk.
Eat, friends, drink,
and be drunk with love!