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Love Poetry for Biblical Literalists

7th February 2006

Since Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, I figured I would provide some biblical love poetry for any young men who may be out there (I also figured since Jim West showed a picture of his ideal woman, I would too!). Whisper these words into the ears of your Valentine’s Day date and you will be guaranteed a second date! … Really!


(Image from an old Wittenburg Door)

How beautiful you are, my love,
how very beautiful!
Your eyes are doves
behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats,
moving 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 is bereaved.
Your lips are like a crimson 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 courses;
on it hang a thousand bucklers,
all of them shields of warriors.
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle,
that feed among the lilies….
Your lips distill nectar, my bride;
honey and milk are under your tongue;
the scent of your garments is like the scent of Lebanon
Your belly is a heap of wheat…
Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon,
overlooking Damascus (Song 4:1-5, 11; 7:2, 4)

(OK, most of the metaphors are understandable, though it is interesting that more dynamic translations like the NLT unpack many of the metaphors in these verses, but they leave the breasts alone. Hmmm… so just how are breasts like fawns feeding among the lilies?)

3 Responses to “Love Poetry for Biblical Literalists”

  1. Codex Blogspot » Blog Archive » The Most Excellent of Songs (The Challenge of Translating Metaphors) Says:

    [...] There are many challenges in translating the Song of Songs. There is an extraordinarily large number of hapax legomena (words that only occur once) in the Song as well as many other rare words and forms. But perhaps the most difficult challenge when translating the book is how to render the innumerable metaphors and smilies found within its verses (for a visual example of how not to understand the metaphorical language, see my post “Love Poetry for Biblical Literalists.”) [...]

  2. Doug Houle Says:

    From Doug Houle
    hdouglas37@earthlink.net

    It is my intent to present one possible analysis but not necessarily the only possible analysis. Readers are invited and encouraged to read the “Song of Songs� for themselves and do their own analysis and draw their own concussions.

    The Song of Songs: Selected
    Analysis and Commentary The Song of Songs: Selected
    Analysis and Commentary

    Song of Songs Chapter1, Verse 1: The song of songs, which is Solomon’s The “song ofâ€? means the “best of.â€? The title “Song of Songsâ€? means the “Best of all Songs.â€?

    Song of Songs Chapter 1, Verse 2: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.

    Analysis of Chapter 1, Verse 2: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth (this passage sets the tone for the rest of the poem. It tells us that the subject of this poem is erotic love, and all its imaginative poetic imagery points directly to the erotic.
    As for the kiss it describes, (as noted by Erik D’Amato writing for Psychology Today in an article called “Mystery of disgustâ€?) “it’s interesting to note that sex itself–all sex–is potentially disgusting. After all, just making out usually involves exchanging gobs of spit with someone else.â€? “When we have sex, says Paul Rozin Ph.D. (a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania who has earned the label “Dr. Disgust” as a result of his untiring exploration of what grosses us out), we temporarily “suspend” our capacity for disgust, something most of us will do only under certain circumstancesâ€?, such as for thy love. “Love:â€? in the original Hebrew Song of Songs text the Hebrew word dowd, pronounced dode is used, meaning properly, to boil, i.e. (figuratively) to love. The woman, who is speaking, temporarily suspends her capacity for disgust for his boiling or love (or symbolically for his boiling love, which) is better than wine. Wine- symbol of supreme pleasure.
    What is the pleasure center of the brain? Scientists call our brain’s pleasure center the medial olfactory area or septal region (or smell brain, olfaction is the sense of smell). The medial olfactory area is also involved with primitive responses such as licking lips, salivation, and other feeding responses, and primitive emotional drives associated with smell. The medial olfactory area is found in the limbic system.
    In the 1950’s at Tulane University Medical School department of neurology and psychiatry, New Orleans, researchers led by the highly controversial Dr. Robert G. Heath, injected a neural transmitter called acetylcholine into a mental patient’s septal area (smell brain). Vigorous activity showed up on the septal EEG, and the patient reported intense pleasure — including multiple sexual orgasms lasting as long as thirty minutes.
    In 1953, scientists lead by James Olds, a psychologist at the California Institute of Technology, working at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, implanted electrodes into the medial olfactory areas (smell brain) of several laboratory rats. Each set of electrodes stimulated a rat’s medial olfactory area every time the rat pressed a special lever inside its cage. The laboratory rats pushed their levers nonstop, about 5,000 times every hour, forfeiting food, water and sex, until they collapsed or died of exhaustion. Further tests showed that not only rats, but dogs, dolphins, monkeys and humans also experience intense pleasure when the same part of their brains is stimulated.

    Song of Songs Chapter 2, Verse 3: As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.

    Analysis of Chapter 2, Verse 3: As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons (“apple tree” – an ancient erotic symbol. I sat down under his shadow (— down under his shadow, the shadow cast by his body or “— his shadow —“as his place of comfort for her. “— with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.â€? Just as fruit are the sweet products of plants, so to “his fruitâ€? are the sweet products of his body, secretions from his apocrine sweat and sebaceous skin oil glands.
    The chemistry of these glandular secretions is quite complex and not fully understood. These secretions contain, among other compounds, (lipids such as triglycerides, fatty acids, short-chain fatty acids such as proprionic acid and butyric acid, free fatty acids, cholesterol and cholesterol esters), lysozymes (bactericide), lactic acid, steroid hormones related to androstenone (a male/female dive enhancer), glycosides, wax esters, isovaleric acid, and squalene.
    TRIGLYCERIDES: Milk fat and butter are comprised mostly of triglycerides, with small amounts of mono- and diglycerides, phospholipids, glycolipids, and lipo-proteins. These are the compounds responsible for the sweet taste of milk fat and butter.
    SHORT-CHAIN FATTY ACIDS: Short-chain fatty acids are flavorful fatty acids that play an important role in the flavor of butter and are present at varied concentrations. Although long-chain fatty acids are present at higher concentrations in butter, they do not make a significant contribution to flavor. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), on the other hand, do play an important role in butter’s flavor.
    Butyric acid is the most widely known and most potent SCFA and is attributed to providing intensity to fatty acid-type flavors associated with butter. Butter also contains a variety of fatty acid precursors of 4-cis-heptenal, a compound which provides butter with a creamy flavor.

  3. Doug Houle Says:

    It is my intent to present one possible analysis but not necessarily the only possible analysis. Readers are invited and encouraged to read the “Song of Songs� for themselves and do their own analysis and draw their own concussions.

    The Song of Songs: Selected
    Analysis and Commentary The Song of Songs: Selected
    Analysis and Commentary

    Song of Songs Chapter1, Verse 1: The song of songs, which is Solomon’s The “song ofâ€? means the “best of.â€? The title “Song of Songsâ€? means the “Best of all Songs.â€?

    Song of Songs Chapter 1, Verse 2: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.

    Analysis of Chapter 1, Verse 2: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth (this passage sets the tone for the rest of the poem. It tells us that the subject of this poem is erotic love, and all its imaginative poetic imagery points directly to the erotic.
    As for the kiss it describes, (as noted by Erik D’Amato writing for Psychology Today in an article called “Mystery of disgustâ€?) “it’s interesting to note that sex itself–all sex–is potentially disgusting. After all, just making out usually involves exchanging gobs of spit with someone else.â€? “When we have sex, says Paul Rozin Ph.D. (a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania who has earned the label “Dr. Disgust” as a result of his untiring exploration of what grosses us out), we temporarily “suspend” our capacity for disgust, something most of us will do only under certain circumstancesâ€?, such as for thy love. “Love:â€? in the original Hebrew Song of Songs text the Hebrew word dowd, pronounced dode is used, meaning properly, to boil, i.e. (figuratively) to love. The woman, who is speaking, temporarily suspends her capacity for disgust for his boiling or love (or symbolically for his boiling love, which) is better than wine. Wine- symbol of supreme pleasure.
    What is the pleasure center of the brain? Scientists call our brain’s pleasure center the medial olfactory area or septal region (or smell brain, olfaction is the sense of smell). The medial olfactory area is also involved with primitive responses such as licking lips, salivation, and other feeding responses, and primitive emotional drives associated with smell. The medial olfactory area is found in the limbic system.
    In the 1950’s at Tulane University Medical School department of neurology and psychiatry, New Orleans, researchers led by the highly controversial Dr. Robert G. Heath, injected a neural transmitter called acetylcholine into a mental patient’s septal area (smell brain). Vigorous activity showed up on the septal EEG, and the patient reported intense pleasure — including multiple sexual orgasms lasting as long as thirty minutes.
    In 1953, scientists lead by James Olds, a psychologist at the California Institute of Technology, working at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, implanted electrodes into the medial olfactory areas (smell brain) of several laboratory rats. Each set of electrodes stimulated a rat’s medial olfactory area every time the rat pressed a special lever inside its cage. The laboratory rats pushed their levers nonstop, about 5,000 times every hour, forfeiting food, water and sex, until they collapsed or died of exhaustion. Further tests showed that not only rats, but dogs, dolphins, monkeys and humans also experience intense pleasure when the same part of their brains is stimulated.

    Song of Songs Chapter 2, Verse 3: As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.

    Analysis of Chapter 2, Verse 3: As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons (“apple tree” – an ancient erotic symbol. I sat down under his shadow (— down under his shadow, the shadow cast by his body or “— his shadow —“as his place of comfort for her. “— with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.â€? Just as fruit are the sweet products of plants, so to “his fruitâ€? are the sweet products of his body, secretions from his apocrine sweat and sebaceous skin oil glands.
    The chemistry of these glandular secretions is quite complex and not fully understood. These secretions contain, among other compounds, (lipids such as triglycerides, fatty acids, short-chain fatty acids such as proprionic acid and butyric acid, free fatty acids, cholesterol and cholesterol esters), lysozymes (bactericide), lactic acid, steroid hormones related to androstenone (a male/female dive enhancer), glycosides, wax esters, isovaleric acid, and squalene.
    TRIGLYCERIDES: Milk fat and butter are comprised mostly of triglycerides, with small amounts of mono- and diglycerides, phospholipids, glycolipids, and lipo-proteins. These are the compounds responsible for the sweet taste of milk fat and butter.
    SHORT-CHAIN FATTY ACIDS: Short-chain fatty acids are flavorful fatty acids that play an important role in the flavor of butter and are present at varied concentrations. Although long-chain fatty acids are present at higher concentrations in butter, they do not make a significant contribution to flavor. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), on the other hand, do play an important role in butter’s flavor.
    Butyric acid is the most widely known and most potent SCFA and is attributed to providing intensity to fatty acid-type flavors associated with butter. Butter also contains a variety of fatty acid precursors of 4-cis-heptenal, a compound which provides butter with a creamy flavor.