A KISS from those lips! Wine cannot ravish the senses like that embrace, nor the fragrance of rare perfumes match it for delight. Your very name spoken soothes the heart like flow of oil; what wonder the maids should love you? Draw me after you where you will; see, we hasten after you, by the very fragrance of those perfumes allured! To his own bower the king has brought me; he is our pride and boast, on his embrace, more ravishing than wine, our thoughts shall linger. They love truly that know your love.
Dark of skin, and yet I have beauty, daughters of Jerusalem. Black are the tents they have in Cedar; black are Solomon's own curtains; then why not I? Take no note of this Ethiop colour; it was the sun tanned me, when my own brothers, that had a grudge against me, set me a-watching in the vineyards. I have a vineyard of my own that I have watched but ill. Tell me, my true love, where is now your pasture-ground, where now is your resting-place under the noon's heat? You would not have me wander to and fro where the flocks graze that are none of yours?
Still bewildered, fairest of womankind? Nay, if you will, wander abroad, and follow with the shepherds flocks; feed, if you will, those goats of yours beside the shepherds' encampment. My heart's love, prized above all my horsemen, with Pharao's wealth of chariots behind them! Soft as doves are your cheeks, your neck smooth as coral. Chains of gold that neck must have, inlaid with silver.
Now, while the king sits at his wine, breathes out the spikenard of my thoughts! Close my love is to my heart as the cluster of myrrh that lodges in my bosom all the night through. Close he clings as a tuft of cypress in the vine-clad rocks of Engedi.
See how fair is the maid I love! Soft eyes you have, like a dove's eyes.
And see how fair is the man I love, how stately! Green grows that bower, yours and mine, with its roof of cedars, with a covert of cypress for its walls.
Count me no more than wild rose on the lowland plain, wild lily on the mountain slopes.
A lily, matched with these other maidens, a lily among the brambles, she whom I love!
An apple-tree in the wild woodland, shade cool to rest under, fruit sweet to the taste, such is he my heart longs for, matched with his fellows.
Into his own banqueting-hall the king has brought me, shewn me the blazon of his love. Cushioned on flowers, apples heaped high about me, and love-sick all the while! His left hand pillows my head; his right hand, even now, ready to embrace me.
An oath, maidens of Jerusalem! By the gazelles and the wild fawns I charge you, wake never from her sleep my heart's love, till wake she will!
The voice I love! See where he comes, how he speeds over the mountains, how he spurns the hills! Gazelle nor fawn was ever so fleet of foot as my heart's love. And now he is standing on the other side of this very wall; now he is looking in through each window in turn, peering through every chink. I can hear my true love calling to me: Rise up, rise up quickly, dear heart, so gentle, so beautiful, rise up and come with me. Winter is over now, the rain has passed by. At home, the flowers have begun to blossom; pruning-time has come; we can hear the turtle-dove cooing already, there at home. There is green fruit on the fig-trees; the vines in flower are all fragrance. Rouse you, and come, so beautiful, so well beloved, still hiding yourself as a dove hides in cleft rock or crannied wall. Shew me but your face, let me but hear your voice, that voice sweet as your face is fair.
How was it they sang? Catch me the fox, the little fox there, thieving among the vineyards; vineyards of ours, all a-blossoming!
All mine, my true love, and I all his; see where he goes out to pasture among the lilies, till the day grows cool, and the shadows long. Come back, my heart's love, swift as gazelle or fawn out on the hills of Bether.
In the night watches, as I lay abed, I searched for my heart's love, and searched in vain. Now to stir abroad, and traverse the city, searching every alley-way and street for him I love so tenderly! But for all my search I could not find him. I met the watchmen who go the city rounds, and asked them whether they had seen my love; then, when I had scarce left them, I found him, so tenderly loved; and now that he is mine I will never leave him, never let him go, till I have brought him into my own mother's house, into the room that saw my birth.
An oath, maidens of Jerusalem! By the gazelles and the wild fawns I charge you, wake never from her sleep my heart's love, till wake she will!
Who is this that makes her way up by the desert road, erect as a column of smoke, all myrrh and incense, and those sweet scents the perfumer knows?
See now the bed whereon king Solomon lies, with sixty warriors to guard him, none braver in Israel; swordsmen all, well trained for battle, and each with his sword girt about him, against the perils of the night! A litter king Solomon will have, of Lebanon wood; a golden frame it must have, on silver props, with cushions of purple; within are pictured tales of love, for your pleasure, maidens of Jerusalem. Come out, maidens of Sion, and see king Solomon wearing the crown that was his mother's gift to him on his day of triumph, the day of his betrothal.
How fair you are, my true love, how fair! Eyes soft as dove's eyes, half-seen behind your veil; hair that clusters thick as the flocks of goats, when they come home from the Galaad hills; teeth white as ewes fresh from the washing, well matched as the twin lambs that follow them; barren is none. Your lips a line of scarlet, guardians of that sweet utterance; your cheeks shew through their veil rosy as a halved pomegranate. Your neck rising proudly, nobly adorned, like David's embattled tower, hung about with a thousand shields, panoply of the brave; graceful your breasts as two fawns that feed among the lilies.
Till the day grows cool, and the shadows long, myrrh-scented mountain and incense-breathing hill shall be my home.
Fair in every part, my true love, no fault in all your fashioning! Venture forth from Lebanon, and come to me, my bride, my queen that shall be! Leave Amana behind you, Sanir and Hermon heights, where the lairs of lions are, where the leopards roam the hills.
What a wound you have made, my bride, my true love, what a wound you have made in this heart of mine! And all with one glance of an eye, all with one ringlet straying on your neck! Sweet, sweet are your caresses, my bride, my true love; wine cannot ravish the senses like that embrace, nor any spices match the perfume that breathes from you. Sweet are your lips, my bride, as honey dripping from its comb; honey-sweet your tongue, and soft as milk; the perfume of your garments is very incense. My bride, my true love, a close garden; hedged all about, a spring shut in and sealed! What wealth of grace is here! Well-ordered rows of pomegranates, tree of cypress and tuft of nard; no lack there whether of spikenard or saffron, of calamus, cinnamon, or incense-tree, of myrrh, aloes or any rarest perfume. A stream bordered with garden; water so fresh never came tumbling down from Lebanon.
North wind, awake; wind of the south, awake and come; blow through this garden of mine, and set its fragrance all astir.
Into his garden, then, let my true love come, and taste his fruit. The garden gained, my bride, my heart's love; myrrh and spices of mine all reaped; the honey eaten in its comb, the wine drunk and the milk, that were kept for me! Eat your fill, lovers; drink, sweethearts, and drink deep!
I lie asleep; but oh, my heart is wakeful! A knock on the door, and then my true love's voice: Let me in, my true love, so gentle, my bride, so pure! See, how bedewed is this head of mine, how the night rains have drenched my hair! Ah, but my shift, I have laid it by: how can I put it on again? My feet I washed but now; shall I soil them with the dust? Then my true love thrust his hand through the lattice, and I trembled inwardly at his touch. I rose up to let him in; but my hands dripped ever with myrrh; still with the choicest myrrh my fingers were slippery, as I caught the latch. When I opened, my true love was gone; he had passed me by. How my heart had melted at the sound of his voice! And now I searched for him in vain; there was no answer when I called out to him. As they went the city rounds, the watchmen fell in with me, that guard the walls; beat me, and left me wounded, and took away my cloak. I charge you, maidens of Jerusalem, fall you in with the man I long for, give him this news of me, that I pine away with love.
Nay, but tell us, fairest of women, how shall we know this sweetheart of yours from another's? Why is he loved beyond all else, that you are so urgent with us?
My sweetheart? Among ten thousand you shall know him; so white is the colour of his fashioning, and so red. His head dazzles like the purest gold; the hair on it lies close as the high palm-branches, raven hair. His eyes are gentle as doves by the brook-side, only these are bathed in milk, eyes full of repose. Cheeks trim as a spicebed of the perfumer's own tending; drench lilies in the finest myrrh, and you shall know the fragrance of his lips. Hands well rounded; gold set with jacynth is not workmanship so delicate; body of ivory, and veins of sapphire blue; legs straight as marble columns, that stand in sockets of gold. Erect his stature as Lebanon itself, noble as Lebanon cedar. Oh, that sweet utterance! Nothing of him but awakes desire. Such is my true love, maidens of Jerusalem; such is the companion I have lost.
But where went he, fairest of women, this true love of yours? Tell us what haunts he loves, and we will come with you to search for him.
Where should he be, my true love, but among the spices; where but in his garden, gathering the lilies? All mine, my true love, and I all his; ever he would choose the lilies for his pasture-ground.
Fair you are and graceful, my heart's love; for beauty, Jerusalem itself is not your match; yet no embattled array so awes men's hearts. Turn your eyes away, that so unman me! Hair dazzling as the goats have, when they come flocking home from the Galaad hills; teeth white as ewes fresh from the washing, well matched as the twin lambs that follow them; barren is none; your cheeks shew through their veil rosy as skin of pomegranate! What are three score of queens, and eighty concubines, and maids about them past all counting? One there is beyond compare; for me, none so gentle, none so pure! Only once her mother travailed; she would have no darling but this. Maid was none that saw her but called her blessed; queen was none, nor concubine, but spoke in her praise. Who is this, whose coming shews like the dawn of day? No moon so fair, no sun so majestic, no embattled array so awes men's hearts.
But when I betook me to the fruit garden, to find apples in the hollows, to see if vine had flowered there, and pomegranate had budded, all unawares, my heart misgave me... beside the chariots of Aminadab.
Come back, maid of Sulam, come back; let us feast our eyes on you. Maid of Sulam, come back, come back! What can the woman of Sulam give you to feast your eyes on, if it be not the dance of the Two Camps?
Ah, princely maid, how dainty are the steps of your sandalled feet! Thighs well shaped as the beads of a necklace, some master-craftsman's work; navel delicately carved as a goblet, that has ever its meed of liquor, belly rounded like a heap of corn amid the lilies. Graceful your breasts are as two fawns of the gazelle. Your neck rising proudly like a tower, but all of ivory; deep, deep your eyes, like those pools at Hesebon, under Beth-rabbim Gate; your nose imperious as the keep that frowns on Damascus from the hill-side. Your head erect as Carmel, bright as royal purple the braided ripples of your hair. How graceful you are, dear maiden, how fair, how dainty! Your stature challenges the palm tree, your breasts the clustering vine. What thought should I have but to reach the tree's top, and gather its fruit? Breasts generous as the grape, breath sweet as apples, mouth soft to my love's caress as good wine is soft to the palate, as food to lips and teeth.
My true love, I am all his; and who but I the longing of his heart? Come with me, my true love; for us the country ways, the cottage roof for shelter. Dawn shall find us in the vineyard, looking to see what flowers the vine has, and whether they are growing into fruit; whether pomegranates are in blossom. And there you shall be master of my love. The mandrakes, what scent they give! Over the door at home there are fruits of every sort a-drying; I put them by, new and old, for my true love to eat.
Would that you were my brother, nursed at my own mother's breast! Then I could meet you in the open street and kiss you, and earn no contemptuous looks. To my mother's house I will lead you, my captive; there you shall teach me my lessons, and I will give you spiced wine to drink, fresh brewed from my pomegranates. His left hand pillows my head; his right hand, even now, ready to embrace me! An oath, maidens of Jerusalem! Never wake from her sleep my heart's love, till wake she will!
Who is this that makes her way up by the desert road, all gaily clad, leaning upon the arm of her true love?
When I came and woke you, it was under the apple-tree, the same where sore distress overtook your own mother, where she that bore you had her hour of shame. Hold me close to your heart, close as locket or bracelet fits; not death itself is so strong as love, not the grave itself cruel as love unrequited; the torch that lights it is a blaze of fire. Yes, love is a fire no waters avail to quench, no floods to drown; for love, a man will give up all that he has in the world, and think nothing of his loss.
A little sister we have, still unripe for the love of man; but the day will come when a man will claim her; what cheer shall she have from us then? Steadfast as a wall if she be, that wall shall be crowned with silver; yield she as a door yields, we have cedar boards to fasten her. And I, I am a wall; impregnable this breast as a fortress; and the man who claimed me found in me a bringer of content.
Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-Hamon; and when he gave the care of it to vine-dressers, each of these must pay a thousand silver pieces for the revenue of it. A vineyard I have of my own, here at my side; keep your thousand pieces, Solomon, and let each vine-dresser have his two hundred; not mine to grudge them.
Where is your love of retired garden walks? All the countryside is listening to you. Give me but the word to come away, your bridegroom, with you; hasten away like gazelle or fawn that spurns the scented hill-side underfoot.