1Ma I have come to my garden, my sister, my bride;
I gather my myrrh with my spices,
I eat my honeycomb with my honey,
I drink my wine with my milk.
D? Eat, friends; drink!
Drink deeply, lovers!*
A Fruitless Search
The sound of my lover knocking!
“Open to me, my sister, my friend,
my dove, my perfect one!
For my head is wet with dew,
my hair, with the moisture of the night.”
3I have taken off my robe,*
am I then to put it on?
I have bathed my feet,
am I then to soil them?
4My lover put his hand in through the opening:
my innermost being* trembled because of him.
5I rose to open for my lover,
my hands dripping myrrh:
My fingers, flowing myrrh
upon the handles of the lock.
6I opened for my lover—
but my lover had turned and gone!
At his leaving, my soul sank.
I sought him, but I did not find him;
I called out after him, but he did not answer me.*
7The watchmen* found me,
as they made their rounds in the city;
They beat me, they wounded me,
they tore off my mantle,
the watchmen of the walls.
8c I adjure you, Daughters of Jerusalem,
if you find my lover
What shall you tell him?
that I am sick with love.
The Lost Lover Described
9D How does your lover differ from any other lover,
most beautiful among women?
How does your lover differ from any other,
that you adjure us so?
10W My lover is radiant and ruddy;*
outstanding among thousands.
11His head is gold, pure gold,
his hair like palm fronds,
as black as a raven.
12His eyes are like doves
beside streams of water,
Bathing in milk,
sitting* by brimming pools.
13His cheeks are like beds of spices
yielding aromatic scents;
his lips are lilies
that drip flowing myrrh.
14His arms are rods of gold
adorned with gems;
His loins, a work of ivory
covered with sapphires.
15His legs, pillars of alabaster,
resting on golden pedestals.
His appearance, like the Lebanon,
imposing as the cedars.
16His mouth is sweetness itself;
he is delightful in every way.
Such is my lover, and such my friend,
Daughters of Jerusalem!
* [5:1] Eat…lovers: the translation and meaning are uncertain.
* [5:3] Robe: knee-length undergarment worn by men and women. Am I then…?: the woman’s refusal is a form of gentle teasing; that she does not really reject her lover is shown by her actions in vv. 5–6. See 1:7–8; 2:14–15, for other teasing interchanges.
* [5:6] The motif of the locked-out lover is common in classical Greek and Latin poetry.
* [5:10–11] In answer to the question of 5:9 the woman sings her lover’s praises (vv. 10–16). Ruddy: also used of David (1 Sm 16:12; 17:42). Gold: indicates how precious the lover is. Palm fronds: his thick, luxuriant growth of hair.
* [5:12] Sitting…: the translation of this line is uncertain; it may continue the metaphor of the lover’s eyes, or refer to another part of his anatomy (e.g., teeth) which has been omitted from the text.